Transport has, for decades, been a central driving force for change within Leeds. From the 1970’s dream of the motorway city to endless aborted attempts at creating tram and trolley bus routes, Leeds has constantly shifted and changed in order to improve access, reduce traffic and promote clean air within the city.
Today, Leeds is amongst the busiest cities in the country, with hundreds of thousands of commuters making their way in and out of the city every single week via the road and railway networks to places like London, Liverpool and Manchester and Birmingham.
However, with slow trains and motorway traffic, those journeys are currently arduous. It’s why the government are pushing on with their HS1, HS2 and HS3 plans to bring high-speed rail to some of the most important cities in the country.
HS2 is the phase in which Leeds be connected to the network and now the Department for Transport has revealed nine promises on what HS2 will deliver for Leeds. They are:
- An all-new train station. Early designs for the Atkins Consortium-designed Leeds transport hub have already been released which reveal a grand plan to completely transform what is already the busiest train station in the north into a vast, multifaceted transport and shopping area with significant development both inside and outside.
- A revitalised South Bank. Leeds’ South Bank is currently undergoing a remarkable transformation in preparation for HS2’s economic benefits with plans by Vastint and more. However, this will continue as the area is reshaped into a vibrant new area. It’s thought that this will help double the size of Leeds city centre whilst bringing urban areas closer to the city.
- Preservation. Any significant infrastructure plan will come with threats to historic areas of land and buildings, and HS2 is much the same. However, HS2 Ltd has recently announced a Green-Corridor between Birmingham and Crewe with funding to ensure thousands of trees and numerous habitats are created and protected on the route. For Leeds, it has been announced that Nostell Priory and its surrounding parkland will be preserved due to the new depot locations.
- Thousands of new jobs. Change is always afoot in Leeds, and the development work that will be required to prepare HS2 for its completion in 2033 is significant. This will create many new jobs and, thanks to the increased footfall in Leeds, hopefully, many more in other jobs throughout the city.
- New homes. Those new jobs mean that there’s a significant need for available housing across the region, and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority will be looking to accelerate the development of housing in the region compared to previous years
- More apprenticeships. The engineering demands for HS2 will mean an influx of new skilled workers is essential. The Government estimate that roughly 2,000 new apprenticeships are set to be created in Leeds alone by the HS2 programme.
- A brand-new depot. Originally planned to be housed in Crofton, the HS2 rolling stock depot is now set to be placed in Leeds – creating 125 skilled new jobs and ensuring Yorkshire plays a crucial role in the delivery of HS2.
- Connectivity in Yorkshire. HS2 isn’t just about the connectivity to the biggest cities. The Department for Transport says a brand-new line will mean faster and better journeys for passengers right across the region.
- Travel to London quicker. Leeds has become a popular spot for those tired of London to move to thanks to its exceptional nightlife, culture, jobs and affordable housing. However, the commute remains an issue. HS2 will transform the journey time to London from 2hrs and 11mins to just 1hr 21mins, enabling even more people to move out of London and to other cities across the country.