A multi-billion pound high-speed rail line could cause a ‘damaging severance’ of Long Eaton, a councillor fears.
Several members of the public asked questions of elected members to voice their fears about the government-funded HS2 project at a meeting of Erewash Borough Council on Thursday.
It comes as transport secretary Chris Grayling admitted that Phase 2b – which includes the leg through Erewash – of the £54 billion route ‘was not in the bag’ and may not be funded by the Treasury.
Mr Grayling argued that the north ‘has to make the case’ for the section that will connect Birmingham to Leeds.
In September it was revealed by HS2 Ltd that, in total, 183 houses in the Long Eaton and Ratcliffe-on-Soar area will be demolished.
The vast majority of these are linked to an up-to-19-metre tall viaduct – now two metres taller than originally planned – which will run through Long Eaton, north across the junction with Station Road.
One resident asked whether there was a specific team within the council that had been set up to ‘aid local residents with their concerns, problems, dilemmas or difficulties over HS2’.
Coun Michael Powell, Conservative, stated that there is no specific group but that it ‘has always been our aim to minimise negative impacts of HS2 on Long Eaton and Sandiacre’.
Another resident asked whether Network Rail would have to reroute all other train traffic onto the low level line through the town to make way for HS2 and whether this would mean that the two level crossings will be closed for much of the day.
Coun Powell said that this option had indeed been raised and that it would ‘cause a damaging severance of our town’ along with extensive delays.
He said that it could lead to the permanent closure of the two level crossings, a situation which the council would find ‘totally unacceptable’.
Another member of the public enquired as to how residents would be able to access the proposed East Midlands Hub at Toton, with no pedestrian access marked on the most recent artist impressions.
Coun Carol Hart, leader of the council, said that this was an ‘unfair’ situation, that ‘Long Eaton residents will suffer the impact of HS2 but not have direct access to the East Midlands Hub at Toton’.
She said discussions were under way to resolve this.
Construction on the Long Eaton leg of the scheme is scheduled to last from 2025 to 2033.
Building the viaduct will see the demolition of 150 residential properties on Bonsall Street, Bonsall Court, Station Road, New Tythe Street, Thornfield Square, Main Street and Meadow Lane in Long Eaton.
More than 1,000 jobs are thought to be lost or displaced as part of the Long Eaton stretch of the project.
Alongside this, the A52 would have to be moved 25 metres to the south.
Among the buildings demolished to make way for the train line would be the Greenwood Community Centre in Toton, the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Long Eaton, and the Midland Hotel in Stapleford.
However, the Government said there will also be significant benefits – helping to rebalance the economy and drive business growth.
The aim of the scheme is to drastically reduce train journey times and bring thousands of jobs to the region.