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Fast track to jobs: Strategy to help Yorkshire take full advantage of HS2

A new report lays out the jobs that could be created in the Leeds City Region by HS2.
A new report lays out the jobs that could be created in the Leeds City Region by HS2.

An extra 41,000 jobs could be created in West Yorkshire and its surrounding districts in the next three decades if civic and business leaders take full advantage of HS2, according to a new report.

The Leeds City Region HS2 Growth Strategy, published today, sets out how the high speed rail project, which will cut journey times between Leeds and London to 81 minutes from 2033, could potentially rejuvenate the economy of the area.

HS2 represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Leeds City Region and this strategy is designed to ensure we maximise the benefits for all our communities.

Keith Wakefield

Among schemes which could be accelerated is the transformation of Leeds Station and the regeneration of key sites in Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Wakefield and York.

The strategy sets out plans to make the region an international centre of excellence in light and high speed rail skills, and highlights University of Leeds proposals to create a high speed rail engineering base and technology park.

HS2 is also expected to make the Leeds City Region, which includes all of West Yorkshire as well as Craven, Harrogate, York, Selby and Barnsley, a more attractive location for inward investment and generate a significant increase in tourism.

The report makes the case for £20m to carry out further feasibility work and determine how much financial support will be needed to implement the plans.

Between now and 2050, the report says, the proposals in the strategy will create 41,000 extra jobs, while 5,000 will be generated from construction and 40,000 from the broader economic impact of HS2.

Sir David Higgins, who chairs HS2 Ltd, praised the region for being one of the first to seize the opportunity to use the project to “build on their own distinctive skills and expertise”.

Keith Wakefield, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee chair, said: “HS2 represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the Leeds City Region and this strategy is designed to ensure we maximise the benefits for all our communities.

“The arrival of HS2 is about more than speeding up journeys and increasing rail capacity, important though that is. It will unlock new business opportunities, create high-skilled jobs, spur regeneration and attract investment.

“Turning these exciting proposals into action will require substantial further funding over a long period and I hope the Government will respond positively to the vision we have set out today.”

An engagement exercise on the Leeds City Region HS2 Growth Strategy begins today. The closing date is Friday March 2.