Lost jobs at Washwood Heath and elsewhere

In an interview with the Birmingham Post, the project manager for the regeneration of the Washwood Heath site has said that HS2 Ltd has ‘kiboshed’ the development.

Birmingham City Council had drawn up plans for a hi-tech business park at Washwood Heath, which would have created 7000 jobs. Over the last two years, the developers have removed thousands of tonnes of concrete ready for business park. However HS2 Ltd have been wanting some of it for a maintenance yard in instead, which might have 400 low-skilled jobs.

Now HS2 Ltd want almost the entire site as a construction depot during the building of HS2. The site is a third of the industrial land in Birmingham.

Stephen Morgan, project manager for the demolition and remediation work, told the Birmingham Post that this new plan from HS2 Ltd has put the plans on hold indefinitely.

He told the Birmingham Post

“We are now finished with the demolition and the site clearance, and phase two was going to take off 10 acres of the site to give access for a maintenance depot for HS2.

“But they have decided that they require the vast majority of the remainder of the site to serve as a construction depot.

“There is no point in continuing marketing the development. At the moment, they want the whole site – they have kiboshed all development proposals.

“It is frustrating for our clients AXA who had hopes and optimism to move the site forward. In an ideal world, if we do not get HS2 we would be building on it, provided we found tenants.

“It would be an ideal site to market – it is a very clean site. But no-one is going to sign up for a site which could be taken away.

“When they first indicated that they wanted the bottom of the site for access to the maintenance depot, it has always been mooted as a possibility that the bulk of the site would be needed for HS2. It is now on hold for an indeterminate period.”

It’s not just in Birmingham where regeneration sites are under threat from HS2.  North West Leicestershire District Council report that the planned distribution site near Ashby de la Zouch, which would create around 1000 local jobs would be unable to go ahead if HS2 goes ahead.  And at an existing industrial estate in Measham, 16 industrial buildings would be demolished.  One of the businesses that would be affected, Omnium Plastics, have already said they would have to relocate outside the district, at a cost of 425 loso critical of the HS2 plans.

“Last time I asked them, before Christmas, we said ‘where is the job offer for Birmingham’, and they said they haven’t got one.

“We want a guarantee of something like a half or a third of the jobs in Birmingham, in return for taking out a third of our industrial land and destroying a chance of creating jobs.”

He added: “If we are handing over a third of our industrial land in Birmingham then it is going to put more pressure on the green belt in Sutton Coldfield, so it isn’t great news for Andrew [Mitchell, MP for Sutton Coldfield] either.”

It’s not just in Birmingham where regeneration sites are under threat from HS2.  North West Leicestershire District Council report that the planned distribution site near Ashby de la Zouch, which would create around 1000 local jobs would be unable to go ahead if HS2 goes ahead.  And at an existing industrial estate in Measham, 16 industrial buildings would be demolished.  One of the businesses that would be affected, Omnium Plastics, have already said they would have to relocate outside the district, at a cost of 425 local jobs.

Andrew Bridgen, MP for North West Leicestershire, told the Burton Mail that the latest developments would ‘stymie’ the proposal and would ‘prevent the regeneration of Measham’.

“HS2 is already have a devastating effect on North West Leicestershire, many years before the first piece of track is due to be laid.

“Those businesses on or near the route are in a state of paralysis as they cannot plan for the future with this white elephant hanging over their heads. This scheme is an impediment to our local economy which is why I am campaigning so strongly against it.”

For more information on the Washwood Heath site, see some of our previous articles:

  1. It’s not just Washwood Heath…
  2. HS2 News from Birmingham
  3. HS2 costing real jobs now
  4. The HS2 jobs divide
  5. Delays to jobs, delays to consultation
  6. “Yes HS2″ supporters – but not here please, 
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