Proposals for HS2 High Speed Rail in South Leeds continue to divide and dismay local residents after a public consultation at the Hunslet Club on Saturday (22 June 2019).
It comes after the Department for Transport revealed earlier this month plans to construct a 3.3km viaduct to take the new railway through Hunslet and into the city centre from the village of Woodlesford.
Residents had the chance to examine several information documents, maps and visual representations of the proposals, while HS2 representatives were present to answer questions.
HS2 spokesperson Steven Smith said: “We’re keen that people have every opportunity to find out about it and respond to the consultation.
“We know the people here are interested in how we can get HS2 to Leeds with the minimum of disruption and provide a new railway line which they can be proud of.
“This is a consultation on the principle of whether or not we should build a viaduct into Leeds. While there are pros and cons we know that making sure we build a structure that works for local people and local communities is important to them.”
However, the event failed to assuage the concerns of some Hunslet residents, with the visual impact of the viaduct and noise being the most common themes as well as the potential threat to wildlife and lack of compensation.
Mr and Mrs Howard, whose house is located next to the proposed viaduct, say the plans are “a bit of a life-killer” as they struggle to sell their house because the line would run “level with their bedroom window.”
“Every viewing we’ve had has been compromised,” they added as they took home official advice about the matter.
Another Hunslet resident voiced her displeasure at the prospect of a viaduct and said the event “was nothing new, it’s all up in the air”.
“Nothing will reassure you when there’s a viaduct going over your house. It’s a waste of money for saving 20 minutes.”
Other residents expressed their support for the project. “It’s cheaper, faster and less disruptive,” said John Harte.
“The completed product has a greater visual impact and inconvenience, but it’s a balance.”
Paul Jackson, of Armouries Way, also expressed his satisfaction with the process, saying he was “told everything I needed to know”.
Leeds is due to be one of the terminuses of Phase 2b of the high-speed railway, which will connect the West Midlands with Leeds and Crewe with Manchester.
Work for Phase 1, linking London with Birmingham, has already begun, but funding for Phase 2 has not yet been approved by Parliament and is not scheduled to be completed in 2033.
The next public consultation on HS2 will take place at Hunslet Carr Primary School on Saturday 6 July between 10am and 2pm.
The consultation will run until 6 September 2019.
Image: CGI showing proposed viaduct crossing Balm Road, looking north