A decision to bring the HS2 rail line through Chesterfield offers a once in a generation opportunity to create jobs and economic growth.
That was the message from Chesterfield Borough Council leader Councillor Tricia Gilby as she welcomed news that HS2 has decided to go ahead with plans for the main HS2 high speed rail link to follow a route through north Derbyshire and South Yorkshire that roughly follows the M1 and M18, with a spur coming off that would serve Chesterfield and Sheffield city centre.
It was also confirmed that Staveley will be home to a HS2 maintenance depot, creating jobs and helping to develop the former industrial sites in the area as part of a wider regeneration plan.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of Chesterfield Borough Council, said: “This is a real game changer for Chesterfield because of the faster connections it will bring to London, Leeds, Manchester and other major cities and the extra capacity on those trains.
“Having high speed trains will benefit not only Chesterfield’s economy but also the wider area as Chesterfield is the link in to other parts of north Derbyshire and the Peak District National Park. It makes Chesterfield a destination to arrive at and that offers the opportunity to develop infrastructure around the station to bring wider economic benefits over time.”
The council is currently working with partners across the East Midlands and Sheffield City Region to maximise the potential opportunities to develop infrastructure that will enable the town to benefit from the rail link and to give local people the skills and training needed to get jobs created by HS2.
An East Midlands HS2 Growth Strategy which sets out plans to achieve this is currently being developed and will be launched later this summer.
Councillor Gilby added: “We will be telling the Government that by investing in infrastructure we can maximise the economic benefits of the HS2 link sooner, bringing more jobs to Chesterfield and the surrounding areas.
“At Staveley we need to ensure that the maintenance depot plans link in with the pre-existing plans to redevelop the former industrial sites in that area. As that land has contamination on it we need to start work sooner rather than later to ensure that everything is ready to benefit from the HS2 rail link when it arrives.
“We do recognise that in addition to the positives of the HS2 link there will be disruption as well. We will be working with HS2 and the Government to ensure all possible mitigation measures are in place to minimise this as much as possible.”
The HS2 announcement has also been welcomed by business leaders.
Peter Swallow, chair of Destination Chesterfield, said: “Proposals for an HS2 stop in Chesterfield and the Staveley maintenance depot, have already sparked a surge of interest in the town from all types of inward investor, including occupiers, commercial developers, and house-builders, thus reinforcing Chesterfield’s status on the national investment map.
“Chesterfield’s location and connectivity gives the town a unique appeal and this has already been recognised by many of those looking to invest. The HS2 announcements made to date have helped to raise the town’s profile even further, and promoted Chesterfield to a different league of investor.
“Key developments like Peak Resort and Chesterfield Waterside are already well underway and HS2 will help make Chesterfield a destination in its own right- an HS2 stop in the town will be another massive step forward.”