New report shows HS2 already embedded in Preston's growth plans

A report produced in collaboration with Preston City Council and eight other regional and local authorities has been published by David Higgins, chairman of HS2.

hs2Changing Britain: HS2 taking root outlines how years before the first train runs, high speed rail is becoming a pivotal part of local plans to drive business growth, create jobs, secure investment and increase connectivity.

Business leaders in Preston have been quick to recognise the benefits that high speed rail will deliver. Establishing a HS2 growth strategy is recognised as an important element of enabling Preston station to be a driver of economic growth. For a county which underperformed in average growth statistics, it’s recognised as a vital factor to rebalance the local economy and allow Lancashire to compete again.

HS2’s improved connectivity will help Lancashire’s major business sectors to prosper; its aerospace clusters, energy sector, university presence in Preston city centre and tourism industry, anchored by Blackpool, are all expected to see growth and benefits.

In the long-term, productivity gains from HS2 could help provide an extra £600m for the Lancashire LEP region and 3,000 additional jobs in Preston and South Ribble. In Preston itself, HS2 could mean 75,000 extra visitors a year, adding £3.3m to the city’s economy annually.

Councillor Peter Rankin, leader of Preston City Council said: “HS2 is a tremendous opportunity not only for Preston but for Lancashire and the wider region too. Preston is already a strategic transport hub but HS2 really takes this to the next level.

"It provides another major incentive to invest in Preston for office, employment and residential development. It’s the logical next step in terms of building on the current investment and future legacy of the £430m Preston, South Ribble and Lancashire City Deal."

As is the case for Preston, the other eight regional and local authorities included in the Changing Britain 2: HS2 taking root report are also reliant on HS2 for the delivery of many aspects of their local economy plans. Integrating HS2 services into the existing transport network will spread the benefits as widely as possible across Preston and neighbouring regions.

HS2 trains will join the West Coast Mainline at Golborne and continue up to Wigan, Preston and Carlisle, cutting journey times between Preston and Birmingham to forty nine minutes (0.49) and Preston and London to one hour and 17 minutes (1.17).

David Higgins, HS2 chairman, said: “Two years ago, local leaders asked me to make sure that HS2 was fully integrated into the existing transport and local economies. It’s an aspiration we’ve sought to realise, but even I underestimated how far that that principle would take us.

"Much of the early focus on HS2 has been on journey times to London. However, as the Changing Britain: HS2 taking root report and Preston’s work proves, it is the inter-regional benefits and early planning from Councils and Local Authorities to harness these which will transform areas such as Preston in the longer term.”

Preston’s early planning to capitalise on the broader benefits of HS2 mirrors that of locations on the Phase one part of the HS2 route from London to Birmingham. Last month it was announced that almost £1bn of investment is being committed to redevelop a part of Birmingham that is set to be transformed by HS2. The investment is expected to create 4,000 new homes, 36,000 new jobs and 600,000 sqm of commercial floor space. These catalytic benefits have been recognised by the Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling as a much needed boost to our regional economies.

Edwin Booth, chair of The Lancashire Enterprise Partnership said: “For Lancashire to maximise its role at the heart of the Northern Powerhouse it needs better connectivity including faster, more frequent and higher capacity train services.

"Many of the benefits outlined in the Changing Britain report echo those identified in our own Transport Prospectus published earlier this year. It reinforces that major investments into Lancashire’s rail infrastructure, could generate thousands of new jobs and unlock significant economic opportunities across a wide range of sectors throughout the entire county.

"The report also highlights how initiatives like HS2 are fully aligned to other integrated LEP investment programmes such as the City Deal which is set to deliver £400m worth of new homes, commercial districts and transport links in and around Preston and South Ribble over the next decade.”

Significant local rail improvement projects are already planned for the region, including the electrification of lines between Preston, Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool. Combined with the new HS2 services, the area is set to receive a huge boost to its transport offering. Getting Preston HS2 ready on time is already at the forefront of multi-agency masterplans. Both Lancashire County Council and Lancashire LEP have been supporting Transport for the North and Rail North in developing the wider longer term strategic plan for rail services in the North of England, in which HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail (sometimes referred to as HS3) will play a key role in achieving plans for economic growth, more jobs and higher prosperity.