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Reaction to HS2 link route through Northwich villages
Ros Todhunter, from Lostock Green Action Group, and Clr Emma Guy, vice chairman from Lostock Gralam Parish Council, are concerned about the proposed HS2 route.
RURAL communities in Northwich fear the impact of a new high speed rail link for the UK, which is set to rip through their villages and countryside.
The proposed route of Phase Two of the £32billion High Speed Two (HS2) line was revealed on Monday and hailed as an ‘engine for growth’ by Chancellor and Tatton MP George Osborne.
Its Birmingham to Manchester leg will run through Whatcroft, Lach Dennis, Lostock Green, Lostock Gralam and Pickmere, cutting close to Tabley Showground, home of the historic Cheshire Show.
Clr Emma Guy, vice chairman of Lostock Gralam Parish Council, said the council has invited Mr Osborne to a public meeting to speak about the plans.
“We are naturally shocked at the announcement which has arrived without any consultation and we’re even more disappointed that George Osborne has failed to mention this to his constituents,” she said.
“The community has many questions that it wants answered about compensation for those living close to the line, the likely timescales for the work and the inevitable disruption to the villages immediately surrounding this line.
“While people may argue about the economic benefits of this investment our primary concern is for local residents and businesses who will now have to live with this uncertainty for years to come.
“Imagine if your home was somewhere in the proposed corridor but you needed to move house, can you envisage how hard it is going to be to find a buyer?
“You could be stuck in a property, unable to move or do anything about it; your whole life going to be on hold because of this announcement.”
She added: “Local residents are very concerned about this announcement particularly about safety, visual impact and the effect on local property prices.
“There is confusion surrounding this announcement and more questions than answers at the moment.”
Clr Peter O’Halloran, chairman of Wincham Parish Council, said: “There is little point in cutting journey times to London by an hour when we in Wincham have poor bus services to Northwich or Lostock Gralam stations.
“Journey times into Manchester then take more than an hour on 40-year-old rolling stock on an un-electrified line.
“As far as I can see we will have 10-plus years of uncertainty while the route is discussed and if as planned the route comes through Wincham we then have the inconvenience of construction and 225mph trains rattling through our rural village with none of the rewards this should bring.”
Home secretary Theresa May told the Guardian on Monday the line was ‘good news for the north west’ and necessary to create jobs and alleviate overcrowding on the West Coast Main Line.
She added: “This is about economic growth and taking key decisions about our infrastructure.”
Barnton man John Hulme, retired company chairman whose business was formerly at Plumley Railway Station, said: “While you have to be concerned for those people who are close to the path of the preferred HS2 rail route, and there are many in our mid Cheshire area, this huge £32billion infrastructure project should be seen as a way of fast tracking our local economy into growth.
“Surprisingly, when canals were first muted 250 years ago, nobody wanted them but they created our first Industrial Revolution which brought growth and prosperity to our own area.”
He added: “Sadly, I believe HS2 will bring pain to our local area and those who will get the real gain are those in our major conurbations which the new route will link.
“If we are to put pressure on the Government, it should be to ensure those who work on the project are local people and the trains that run on HS2 are built in the UK.”
Phase Two is estimated to open to passengers in 2033.
• Lostock Gralam Parish Council will be discussing HS2 at its meeting on Monday, February 4, which is at Lostock Gralam Church Hall, in Station Road, from 7.30pm.