Lord Kerslake has backed calls for Sheffield’s high-speed rail station to be built in the city centre rather than at Meadowhall.
The former head of the civil service, and chief executive of Sheffield council from 1997 to 2008, said the decision “could fundamentally influence for a very long time how the economy in Sheffield city region develops and whether we learn the lessons of the past and build on economic centres or whether we take very short-term tactical decisions that will undermine the opportunities for the future”.
He added that the economic case is “overwhelming”.
Scores of businesses and public sector organisations have united in an unprecedented show of support for a high-speed rail station in the city centre.
The Government currently favours a site at Meadowhall. But figures from HS2 Ltd - the company it set up to build the line - show a central station would create 6,500 more jobs and, crucially, three times as many in outlying towns including Barnsley, Rotherham and Doncaster.
Some Meadowhall supporters say a hub there would serve the region better.
But Peter Kennan, Sheffield Chamber’s transport expert, said: “Meadowhall is not a hub for Chesterfield or Derbyshire Dales.
“Bassetlaw and Doncaster will continue to use the East Coast Mainline at Retford and Doncaster. It’s quicker and easier to Leeds and London.
“The Meadowhall site is constrained by geography, topography and geology. Traffic gridlock will only get worse with an HS2 station. Potential ticket revenue is predominantly in south and west Sheffield where the professional services sectors are. Meadowhall is an inappropriate site to serve key passenger markets.”
Sheffield Chamber has organised an HS2 summit at 8am on Thursday, February 18, at the City Hall to set out the economic case as clearly as possible and to ensure ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’ is not missed.