Sheffield bosses have written an open letter to national business leaders warning the Government is about to make a ‘strategic error’ over plans to site the HS2 station at Meadowhall.
Some 27 directors and senior executives - representing 2,000 businesses, from white collar employers to football clubs - say they fear the benefits of northern economic growth could be lost in Yorkshire and further afield if the high speed train stop is not in the city centre.
Campaigners claim choosing the old Victoria station would create 6,500 more jobs, generate up to £2.5bn more income, £530m more in business rates and 1,000 more homes.
They also say it would be no more expensive than the out-of-town option if the costs of linking it to HS3 services - fast trains into the centre of northern cities - are included.
The letter states: ‘This may seem a small local issue but it has national implications. All of the evidence points to a station in Sheffield city centre delivering vastly more benefit for the region’.
It adds: ‘HS2 readily accepts the merits of the city centre location but if it insists on building outside, Sheffield will have two high-speed train stations that are four miles apart. Connectivity will be a myth but at twice the cost’.
It claims the route to Meadowhall would limit the work to build an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District on the Sheffield-Rotherham border ‘which has proved a hub for high value global manufacturing investment in the UK economy’.
It concludes: ‘Failure to bring HS2 to Sheffield city centre will fundamentally undermine investment and confidence. We advise that the Chancellor demand HS2 Ltd to look again their business case. They are going to jeopardise his political legacy’.
Signatories include: Paul Firth of law firm Irwin Mitchell, David Grey of OSL Group, Graham Sadler of Sheffield Business Park, John Warner of accountants BHP and Richard Wright, executive director of Sheffield Chamber which represents 2,300 companies.
A final decision is expected in autumn 2016.