‘Overseas clients will shun HS2 at Meadowhall’

Why I Support HS2. Nick Beecroft from HLM Architects on Norfolk Street in Sheffield.
Why I Support HS2. Nick Beecroft from HLM Architects on Norfolk Street in Sheffield.
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The boss of an international firm of architects based in Sheffield says clients will shun high speed rail if the stop is at Meadowhall - to avoid “20 minutes of messing about at the end.”

Nick Beecroft, director of HLM on Tudor Square, said it was fundamentally “ridiculous” to ask a client from Abu Dhabi to use HS2 if they then had to change and take another train or tram to get to their destination.

Gerald Jennings, president of Leeds Chamber

Gerald Jennings, president of Leeds Chamber

The Star has launched a campaign - City Centre or Bust - to persuade the Government to change its preferred choice of Meadowhall.

HS2 Ltd’s own figures predict a city centre stop would create 6,500 more jobs than at the shopping centre.

Mr Beecroft has thrown his support behind the campaign by assigning staff to create images of how a station might look.

The firm has offices in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, London, Plymout and a head office in Sheffield.

He said: “I think when you’re bringing international clients to the city, people don’t have a lot of time and they want to be at the heart of things.

“I can’t imagine they are going to go on a train to Meadowhall and have to change. They’re going to get on the Midland Mainline to Sheffield, which takes two hours.

“It’s fundamentally ridiculous, you’ve got 20 minutes messing about at the end, it would be a huge inconvenience.

“We have clients from all over the world who want to see and enjoy the city centre.

“If it was Leeds or Manchester they would be insisting it was in the city centre - and that’s exactly what’s happening

“We want to be able to say to clients from Abu Dubai, ‘catch a high speed train into the city centre and we will see you there, they’re straight into the heart of Sheffield.”

The firm’s £27m Heart of the Campus project for Sheffield Hallam University last year won a Royal Institute of British Architects Yorkshire Award.

It was praised by RIBA for “the sensitive way that it broke down the massing of the site to reflect the conservation area setting.”

The firm’s backing for the HS2 campaign comes as Sheffield Chamber confirmed three speakers for a ‘summit’ event in the city designed to set out the case ‘as clearly and independently as possible’.

‘The right location for HS2: the role of business’ will be held at Sheffield City Hall on Thursday February 18 and aims to underline its importance to the business community.

The line up of speakers has been designed to offer independent views of the economic and strategic issues around the station location, the Chamber says.

They include Gerald Jennings, a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, who has worked in the retail property sector for more than 25 years.

He formed his own property company and consultancy last year when he also became President of Leeds Chamber of Commerce, and is leading the business case for devolution and HS2.

Justin Urquhart Stewart is one of the UK’s best known names in investment management and an exponent of the development of regional investment structures for business, as well as reforming investment structures.

A regular media commentator and columnist, he is often called on to demystify complicated financial jargon and stories.

Henk Bouwman is currently working with the Independent Transport Commission consulting on the impact of high speed rail in UK cities.

The director of UiP urban producers, he is also a member of the Academy of Urbansim.

Sheffield Chamber executive director Richard Wright said: “The industry knowledge and economic credibility of the speaker line-up is unparalleled and I look forward to welcoming all three speakers to Sheffield City Region to help us draw upon all the information and give us that impartial opinion we need.”

As well as the speaker line-up, the summit will feature a debate and a Q&A session.

Richard added: “The location of the HS2 station has enormous implications for the economy of the region. The current options are a parkway type station at Meadowhall, or a city centre location on the site of the old Victoria station.

“As an independent economic organisation, Sheffield Chamber is passionate that the right location is chosen.

“We understand the sensitivities of the decision to many parts of the region however, so we have tried hard to bring in the right independent speakers.

“We hope every business attending will support our call for the Department for Transport to conduct an independent economic review of the best location.

“We are prepared to get behind its findings.”

The event, at The Memorial Hall at Sheffield City Hall, is from 8am to 10:30am. For more information or to book a place visit www.scci.org.uk/events.

• Figures from HS2 Ltd estimate a city centre hub would create up to 12,600 jobs – some 6,400 more than Meadowhall – and would create three times as many jobs in Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.

It would also result in up to 1,400 homes – 900 more than Meadowhall – and pump up to £5bn extra into the economy over 25 years. A decision is due in autumn.