Proposed HS2 depot site could ‘threaten thousands of jobs’

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A landowner and property firm is urging the company behind HS2 to re-think where a rolling stock depot would be sited in Leeds in order to safeguard up to 6,800 future jobs.

HS2 Ltd is currently consulting on proposals to site the depot next to junction 45 of the M1, at Gateway 45. For several years, the site was earmarked to become the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone and has around £10m in place from private investment, and public loans, to build industrial units. It also has the potential to attract inward investment from major distribution companies.

The site is owned by Evans Property Group and Harworth Group, who will jointly submit their opposition to the proposal. James Pitt, development director for Evans Property Group, spoke to the and said contracts worth around £12m were due to be signed in the summer for the construction of two industrial units on the land with a combined footprint of 150,000 sq ft, which alone would immediately create 330 jobs and further positions once the unit are operational; as well as £16m GVA to the regional economy.

The developer says the whole 170-acre site, when full, would open up a potential future 6,800 jobs and hugely boost the regional economy. Due to the nature of the public grants, all rates generated by the Enterprise Zone would go into the Leeds City Region economy.

Pitt said that just as the agreements were due to be signed, they were informed that HS2 were looking to earmark 157,500 sq ft of the designated land as a location for a depot for HS2 trains to be stored overnight, for cleaning and maintenance to take place. A consultation began straight after, which ends next week. It is expected that if it gets the go ahead, the land would be safeguarded until 2022.

He added that the company supported HS2 because of the huge positive impact it would bring to the region but urged for “a compromise” to be found. The landowners will suggest an alternative location on adjoining land, where a former power station stood, in order to maximise the potential for the regional economy and protect job creation.

Pitt said: “We want to work collaboratively to see the rolling stock depot delivered in Leeds. To that end, we are working with HS2, the LEP, Leeds City Council to deliver an option which will allow the Leeds City Region Enterprise Zone to come forward as envisaged.”

A HS2 spokesperson said: “A public consultation is currently underway regarding the proposed relocation of HS2’s eastern leg rolling stock depot and we encourage local people to have their say.

“HS2 Ltd is already engaged in conversations with the landowner and Leeds City Council and we are eager to identify how we may accommodate their wider aspirations for the site, alongside our own plans, should the Secretary of State confirm he wishes to relocate the depot.

“HS2 will deliver major benefits to the Yorkshire region and the rolling stock depot will provide local employment and supply chain opportunities.”

Originally, HS2 were looking to site the depot at New Crofton and the location change is being proposed due to a change in the alignment of the high speed railway line. Consultation  runs until 12 October and feedback can be submitted online.