The vice chancellors of both of Sheffield’s Universities have thrown their weight behind the campaign for an HS2 station in Sheffield city centre.
The new head of Sheffield Hallam University, Prof Chris Husbands, said it would “benefit the region as a whole,” while Prof Sir Keith Burnett of the University of Sheffield pledged the support of staff and students.
A major HS2 summit is being staged at 8am tomorrow, Thursday February 18, at the Memorial Hall, Sheffield City Hall. Organised by Sheffield Chamber, ‘Getting the right location for the SCR HS2 station: the role of business’ aims to set out the facts. Go to www.scci.org.uk/events to attend.
The Star is among a host of public and private sector organisations campaigning for an HS2 station in Sheffield city centre to maximise the economic benefits of the High Speed line.
HS2 Ltd’s own forecasts suggest a city centre station would generate 6,500 more jobs than the Government’s choice of Meadowhall.
Prof Chris Husbands said connections between city centres were vital to the Northern Powerhouse plan and if the station was at Meadowhall it could “fall short.”
Prof Husbands, who took over in January after Philip Jones retired, heads up one of the largest universities in the UK, with 33,000 students - including 4,000 from overseas - and nearly 4,500 staff.
It also supports a further 9,340 jobs and pumps £424m annually into Sheffield City Region’s economy. Over the past 10 years SHU has invested £110m in buildings and facilities, he added.
“Locating the HS2 station in Sheffield city centre would be likely to deliver significantly more benefits for the region as a whole, driving more jobs and investment. The long evidence from economic history is that cities are catalysts for economic growth in their regions.
“To realise the Northern Powerhouse ambition, major infrastructure investment must recognise the importance of city-centre-to-city-centre connectivity.
“This has been reflected in the HS2 plans for Manchester and Leeds. If the HS2 station is not located in Sheffield city centre then we could fall short of the fully integrated rail network in the North that is required.
“Of course, were there to be a city centre station, this places a keen responsibility on the city to ensure that the economic benefits are distributed widely across the region as a whole.”
Prof Sir Keith Burnett said: “From the point of view of staff and students of The University of Sheffield, the university continues to support calls for the HS2 Sheffield city-centre location.”
Chamber executive director Richard Wright, said: “The current options are a parkway type station at Meadowhall, or a city centre location on the site of the old Victoria station. The final decision still has to be made.
“The incredible in-depth knowledge of the speakers we have lined up for this event means that we will be able to draw upon all the information and impartial opinion that we need.
“I’m very much looking forward to welcoming these fantastic speakers to the Sheffield City Region. HS2 will, without doubt, have enormous implications for the future economy of the region.”