As always, we watched the Budget speech on Wednesday, and have trawled through the documents, looking at what it had to say on HS2.
The obvious was that HS2 was indeed mentioned in Hammond’s speech – as one of the largest infrastructure projects in Europe, the other being Crossrail. The other was a reminder of the £300 million, announced in October, of more money to connect HS2 to the rest of the network. There was however no mention of the £55.6 bn cost of HS2.
But the expected announcements on housing also contained HS2 relevant items.
One thing that we have been concerned about at Stop HS2 is the likelihood of development around HS2 stations, with Andrew McNaughton, the Chief Engineer of HS2, revealing their thinking back in 2012 at a speech at iRail and more recently suggestions of development at Toton.
So our ears pricked up when Hammond referred to “building high quality, high density homes in city centres and around transport hubs”. While HS2 was not explicitly mentioned, it is almost certainly part of the Government’s thinking.
The other relevant part was the mention of the development of new garden cities and housing in connection with a report from the National Infrastructure Commission – that’ll be the one chaired by Andrew Adonis. While garden cities sound like good and pretty things to have, it should also be remembered that just two weeks ago, Adonis called high speed trains “some of the most beautiful facets of modern life”, before saying that the Chilterns (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) will regret having tunnels which hide HS2 from sight.
So nothing new directly related to HS2, – but definitely things to keep an eye on.