Crewe hub announcement will see Constellation surge

Rachel Bailey

The leader of Cheshire East Council and member of the Constellation Partnership has said that clarity from Government over plans for the Crewe HS2 hub has given the 25-year regeneration programme a real boost.

Speaking, at a special Constellation event at MIPIM, Cllr Rachel Bailey said: “A whole new chapter is starting because of the response to the Crewe hub station and the submission of the growth bid from all partners to Government, to which we await a response.

“Constellation is about future planning. It’s very much about 2040 and is underpinned absolutely by the concept of high speed rail, so as HS2 Phase 2A reaches Crewe in 2027, with the desire that HS2 Phase 2B and connectivity to and from Manchester following this four years later, you will really see the surge of the Constellation.

“In terms of planning, we are out there now saying that this is planned good growth on the back of high speed rail, whereby partners are engaged, communities are aware, developers and investors are aware, so it represents the need of the area along with recognising the personality and quality of place of each of the areas.”

The Constellation Partnership area sits between Birmingham and Manchester, and is a unique and diverse alliance between Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Stafford Borough Council, Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Staffordshire County Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Cheshire & Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership and Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Described as “the place where the UK connects” because of its 360 degree connectivity on the national road and rail network, Constellation already contributes £29bn to the UK economy each year and detailed evidence shows that, through HS2, a minimum of an extra 120,000 jobs and 100,000 homes can be created by 2040.

At a packed event, “Constellation, from vision to action”, on the Cheshire and Warrington exhibition stand, hosted by Philip Cox, chief executive of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, Cllr Bailey advised potential investors not delay: “It’s good to get involved now to be on the crest of the wave and we will be here next year and the year after with all subsequent stages of the journey.”

Her sentiments were echoed by David Frost CBE, Chairman, Stoke and Staffordshire LEP, who said: “Having the Constellation and the unanimity from the local authorities makes it easier for investment to happen.

“HS2 is the real driver. With the railway coming to Crewe and with the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire loop having increased connectivity means journey times from London to Stafford, for example, will be slashed from an hour and 17 minutes to around 50 minutes, which will make an enormous difference, but it’s not the sole issue. The line between the two major conurbations of Greater Manchester and Greater Birmingham makes it an obvious place for growth, particularly as the population continues to grow.”