South Yorkshire politicians clash over HS2 station plans

Sir David Higgins gives a speech on his report into HS2 at the launch of the HS2 report in Leeds Civic Hall.
Sir David Higgins gives a speech on his report into HS2 at the launch of the HS2 report in Leeds Civic Hall.

South Yorkshire politicians have clashed over the potential location of a new high-speed rail station after project boss Sir David Higgins repeated his backing for Meadowhall.

Sir David said he believes building the region’s HS2 station at Meadowhall is the ‘right answer’ for South Yorkshire - instead of the Sheffield city centre location that has been suggested by campaigners.

He said there is currently ‘insufficient evidence’ to support altering the current proposal to the city centre site at the former Victoria station, which opponents say would be more expensive to build and increase journey times to the rest of South Yorkshire.

But there has been a mixed reaction to his latest findings – with those in support of the city centre option claiming Sheffield could miss out on the creation of thousands of extra jobs if Meadowhall is chosen.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “One of the main objectives of HS2 is to improve the northern economy and, on that basis, the case for a Sheffield city centre station is overwhelming. Independent economic studies confirm that a city centre station would create 6,500 extra jobs compared to Meadowhall, and would provide a £5 billion stimulus to the local economy.

“This is the biggest investment in the railways north of London since the Victorian age, so we’ve got to get it right.

“Sheffield Council, our two universities and business leaders all support a city centre station and I’ll continue to work with them to press the case with HS2 Ltd and the Government.”

It comes after Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said a city centre station was ‘fundamental’ to the future of the city’s economy.

But Barnsley Council leader Sir Stephen Houghton CBE has said the Meadowhall option is preferable for the wider South Yorkshire region. He said: “In Barnsley we are pleased to hear the intent of a station at Meadowhall, which is seen as the best location to aid the economic growth of the city region.”

He said council leaders will work to ensure TransPennine rail services are connected with HS2.