The Guardian: "Superblocks to the rescue: Barcelona’s plan to give streets back to residents"

"The Catalan capital's radical new strategy will restrict traffic to a number of big roads, drastically reducing pollution and turning secondary streets into 'citizen spaces' for culture, leisure and the community"

Link to web site

"In the latest attempt from a big city to move away from car hegemony, Barcelona has ambitious plans. Currently faced with excessive pollution and noise levels, the city has come up with a new mobility plan to reduce traffic by 21%. And it comes with something extra: freeing up nearly 60% of streets currently used by cars to turn them into so-called 'citizen spaces'.

"The plan is based around the idea of superilles (superblocks) – mini neighbourhoods around which traffic will flow, and in which spaces will be repurposed to 'fill our city with life', as its tagline says.

This plan will start in the famous gridded neighbourhood of Eixample. That revolutionary design, engineered by Ildefons Cerdà in the late 19th century, had at its core the idea that the city should breathe and – for both ideological and public health reasons – planned for the population to be spread out equally, as well as providing green spaces within each block.

"Reality and urban development have, however, got the best of it, and as the grid lines became choked with cars, the city’s pollution and noise levels have skyrocketed. What was once a design to make Barcelona healthier, now has to be dramatically rethought for the same reasons."


Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin on HS2

Albert Room, Leeds Town Hall
Speech to launch ITC’s new report ‘High speed rail and connected cities - accessible places for growing economies.’

High speed rail and
connected cities

"I’m delighted to be here this morning, and to be joined by my PPS Stuart Andrew MP, a local MP who is well in touch with what is happening here in Leeds.

I’m delighted to be here today for the launch of the ITC report this morning and I’m grateful to Matthew, John and everyone at the ITC who helped put it together."
Cities and HS2
"There is no doubt in my mind that major cities like Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield – now I’ve got to be careful here because I don’t want to miss anyone out – Liverpool, Newcastle are, without any doubt, where a lot of our country’s wealth is generated.

Where we see inward investment directed.

And we want to see most jobs created.

So it’s no surprise that Britain’s journey over the past six years, from recession to recovery, has been driven by our city regions.

Yet compared with the majority of major cities on the continent, ours have been suffering from a distinct disadvantage.

While we continue to rely on an overcrowded Victorian railway network, western Europe worked out a long time ago that in our modern world the best way of carrying large numbers of passengers between cities – quickly, efficiently, comfortably and reliably – is high speed rail.

But although we’re late joining the high speed club, we do have one very important advantage: we can learn from the experience of others.

From the design, construction and operation of their high speed railways, but also from the cities which host high speed stations, and their success in stimulating economic growth, so we can make HS2 the very best high speed railway in the world."
Commitment to HS2
"I know there have been various reports in the papers, about; whether HS2 is going ahead, whether it is going to Leeds and going to Manchester?

I can tell you today that it is going to Leeds and it is going to Manchester. Because we are totally committed to the whole of the high speed network.

Of course it’s controversial. It’s controversial in certain areas, which will have a train line going through where they wouldn’t have had one before, perhaps with no station so they feel they’re not going to get any direct advantage.

I understand that, and I don’t dismiss these concerns.

But it is worth remembering, when the very first railway between London and Birmingham was put before parliament it was defeated in the House of Commons, because the canals were considered perfectly adequate.

As has been said earlier on – and it’s important to remember this – we’re not talking about a railway for next year, we’re talking about a railway for 20 years time.

We’ve got to get the planning, and we’ve got to get the investment right. These projects do take time to actually implement.

But I can tell you this: that if the government was considering planning a brand new motorway from the north to the south, it would also be incredibly controversial.

There is no major infrastructure project which is not controversial at the time of construction.

But there aren’t any major infrastructure projects that I can think of, that once they are there, that people turn round and say: “No, you shouldn’t have built it.”

So I’m not dispelling some of the problems that there are.

Of course we have to keep an eye on the costs. We’ve had to keep an eye on the costs on Crossrail, or as we now call it the Elizabeth line. And HS2 is Crossrail’s answer for the northern cities.

It’s about addressing the balance between transport infrastructure investment between London and the north.

There are those that think its unequal. Judith (Councillor Blake) might complain – in fact I’ve heard her complain! – that there is not enough investment in some of our cities.

I have some sympathy with that.

But I would point out that some of the improvements we’ve seen, for example at King’s Cross Station and St Pancras Station, actually benefit northern cities too.

These stations used to be places where you didn’t want to spend a minute longer than you needed.

Today both St Pancras and King’s Cross are destinations in their own right. And if you arrive half an hour early for your train, you really don’t mind."
Listening and continually improving
The fact that we are now just a year away from construction means that the report being launched today is well-timed.

Given the size of the project – the biggest infrastructure scheme in this country for generations – it’s critical that we continue to develop and hone our plans.

Indeed, the HS2 project has always been about listening to people’s views, and continually improving.

Since 2010, when we set out our plans for a new high speed railway HS2 has never stopped evolving. It’s included: the biggest public consultation in government history; a massive programme of engagement with local communities; and of course, rigorous examination as the Bill passes through all its parliamentary stages.

At every stage we have listened, learned, and adapted to make HS2 the very best it can be."
ITC - guiding principles
"And that process continues. That’s why we’re here today.

I’m pleased the report reinforces the message that HS2 will not just improve transport and not just speed up journeys – it will also improve capacity too.

I have to confess that being called HS2 can sometimes overshadow what it’s also about.

In 1992, 750 million people a year used our railways. Last year 1.7 billion people used our railways. Capacity on some of our networks is saturated.

When people call for more local services, they don’t seem to appreciate that once built, HS2 will give us that capacity.

But it is also a catalyst for revitalising and regenerating our cities.

I welcome the emphasis it puts on close engagement and collaboration, the importance of improving transport connectivity around HS2 stations, and the need to be responsive to change.

And I echo the advice that cities with HS2 stations need to show leadership, so each of them grasps the unprecedented opportunities that this extraordinary project offers.

These are the guiding principles of the ITC report.

And it’s good to know that many of them are already in evidence – particularly for Phase One of the scheme."
What we’re already doing
"We’ve seen Birmingham set out ambitious regeneration plans around Curzon Station and the Old Oak Common and Midlands Growth Strategies have now been completed.

Leeds, Manchester, East Midlands, Crewe, and Sheffield are also preparing for the construction of Phase Two.

Just as government has been engaging and listening, so have HS2 cities; working closely with local businesses, local authorities, and local people.

And where necessary adapting their programmes.

Here in Leeds, a station redesign has delivered a much more integrated and successful result.

We’ve seen blue chip companies for example choosing to move to HS2 cities.

While HSBC has relocated its retail banking headquarters from London to Birmingham, and cited HS2 as a significant factor in its decision.

For businesses, HS2 means they can access new markets, draw their employees from a much wider catchment area, and - perhaps for the first time - consider moving offices away from London.

The benefits of working in cities like Leeds are self-evident: more affordable housing; a higher standard of living; quick access to beautiful countryside – whether it be Yorkshire or Derbyshire!

In Doncaster and Birmingham, construction of our High Speed Rail training colleges has begun. Councils are saying that school leavers are already applying for places at the college.

A recent article in the Financial Times reported how hotels in Crewe are already seeing an upturn in business, and quotes Cheshire East council saying that the difference HS2 is making to the town already is 'tangible'.

So the economic benefits of HS2 are clear, even before a single track is laid."
European Lessons
"So it's heartening that many aspects of the report reflect work that is under way here in the UK, but it also provides fresh insight that I’m sure will be valuable to all our HS2 cities – particularly the detailed study of high speed on the Continent:

How Bordeaux launched a competition to find the best way to build 50,000 homes in the region;

How Utrecht collaborated and worked with residents;

And how different European cities have sought to attract a new generation of young people to support regeneration around stations.

I also know the report’s illuminating analysis of each city region here in the UK will be of real value.

Quite rightly it shows how each location faces distinct challenges.

But also how HS2 cities can benefit by working together and sharing knowledge."
"But most of all it reinforces the message, that when HS2 construction begins – and that is next year, actual construction by the way.

Sometimes people ask me when you will start work on HS2.

Every time I go and see HS2 Ltd in their office and I see for myself there is a vast amount of work going on, a vast amount of expertise that’s already being engaged, because a lot of the work is in the planning.

But construction will begin next year.

And we will be building something much bigger than a new railway. We’ll be investing in our economic prosperity for the next half century and more.

Now sometimes perhaps there’s a feeling that everything has to be done on a 30 year basis.

In that case the Jubilee line, when its BCR was 1, would never have been built.

The Limehouse Link, which had a BCR of 0.47, but has been absolutely essential for the regeneration of The City, would never have been built.

So sometimes BCRs are not the only thing we have to address when we’re looking at such investments.

We need to look at future capacities, for our northern cities, around the midlands, not just for the next 20 to 30 years but for the next 60, 70 or 100 years.

So I very much welcome this report today, and I very much welcome this conference, in helping move forward the debate.

You’ll read various things in the newspapers: some of them are accurate but some of them are completely inaccurate; most of the things I read are wholly inaccurate.

Of course there will always be pressure to look at costs, and to make sure we’re getting the best value for money – it would be insane not to do so.

But it would also be insane not to say ‘what is our transport system going to look like in 30, 40, 50 years time?’ and to make sure our great cities have those same opportunities that London has, and make sure that young people look to those cities to base their lives on, and not to move away from them.

Thank you very much indeed."


Independent Transport Commission: "High Speed Rail"

"High Speed 2 (HS2) is the biggest infrastructure project in Europe and the importance of this investment for the economic future of Britain is clear. The improved connectivity and rail capacity that will come from its services between London, the Midlands and Northern England, will help our rail system cope with rapidly rising demand, and free other parts of our network for enhanced passenger and freight services.

"However, the case for such investment goes well beyond rail transport improvements. We know from evidence in other countries where High Speed Rail has been built that it can, with the right supplementary initiatives, help to revitalise cities, act as an engine for their regeneration, and enhance their international competitiveness. The challenge now is for our great cities and city regions to capture the opportunities that HS2 investment will bring.

"As a Patron of the Independent Transport Commission (ITC), I am very pleased therefore to commend this new report, which explores how the benefits of HS2 can be captured by the city regions it will serve. Drawing from the evidence and insights captured in the ITC’s 2014 report Ambitions and Opportunities, which explored the impacts of HSR in various European countries, this report uses those findings and applies them to the cities in Britain that will be connected by HS2. Several recurring themes emerge:
  • Successful cities have a coherent sense of identity and a shared ambition of what they wish to achieve from enhanced connectivity
  • Investment in improving local transport connectivity is vital if the benefits of HSR investment are to be shared throughout a whole region
  • Benefits are more easily captured when there is widespread cooperation and collaborative working, ensuring that not only local government but also civic society and citizens are able to contribute and take a central role in the redevelopment of their city regions.
"The message from this report is clear – there is no reason why our great cities in Britain cannot enjoy the same benefits from HSR that cities in other countries around the world have enjoyed. As the transport infrastructure begins to be built, I recommend that our great cities and their citizens use this ITC report to help plan for the arrival of HS2, ensuring that this major investment better enables our cities to compete on a global stage to the benefit of all.

Lord Adonis

"... At Old Oak and Park Royal, the Grand Union Alliance organised workshops and hands-on planning groups to shape a future strategy for community participation over the next 20-30 years to ensure 'opportunity for all'."

Transport for London notices there's a new mayor


Planning Resource: "Old Oak development corporation boundary 'could be redrawn', chief executive says"

"The footprint of west London's Old Oak and Park Royal Mayoral Development Corporation could be redrawn to include Wormwood Scrubs Prison, the regeneration corporation's chief executive has said."

"Victoria Hills told an event hosted by law firm Fieldfisher that failing to include the Victorian jail within the remit of the development corporation - OPDC for short - was a 'missed opportunity'.

"However she said the decision could be revisited, particularly in the light of justice secretary Michael Gove's plans to sell off some of the country's older prisons for redevelopment.

"Giving an update on progress on the corporation area, which covers a total of 650 hectares and is set to host an interchange for the High Speed 2 rail line and Crossrail, as well as 25,500 new homes, in the coming decades, Hills said she expected things to 'continue to move and evolve' with the site.

" 'The prison was within the boundary that we consulted on, and we did want to include it in our boundary but there were three aspects of that boundary that the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham couldn't live with,' she said.

" 'The prison is in the news almost daily, so in some respects I'm quite glad that it's not within our boundary, but it has been announced that it is on the list for estates release, so from my perspective, it's a bit of a missed opportunity.

" 'But it doesn't mean that we couldn't go back and have another go. We can go back and consult on our boundary in the future and relay the statutory order to include things that we would like to have put in there.'

"Hills said the same situation could apply to original plans to include part of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in the OPDC.

" 'They were part of the original partnership, but when the then-mayor couldn't guarantee their Crossrail station at Kensal, they withdrew,' she said.

" 'If that station comes back on again, they might come back into the MDC.'

"Earlier, Jamie Kerr - managing director of the government's HS2 Growth Partnership, created to support regeneration along the new high-speed route - said the organisation was looking at ideas to involve the private sector in land assembly at sites around new stations that would be created on the line.

"Kerr said that, while there was not a problem at Old Oak Common, where the bulk of the core regeneration area was in public control, there was a need to 'avoid land-banking' and drive forward development at the same time that the new railway was delivered.

" 'We want people to arrive and feel that something is happening at all of the cities,' he said.

" 'We're trying to create a venture fund that will purchase land, fund pre-development costs, get to that stage where "place" is created, and give investors the chance to own what is going to be some of the primest real estate in the regional cities.'

"Kerr said the redevelopment of the area around King’s Cross Station in the capital was driving thinking for the areas around HS2's stations."


Railway Engineer: "Taking HS2 to completion"

Link to web site

"So far as many people are concerned, HS2 is a high-profile project that hasn't started yet. True, there have been some route plans published, many of which are being criticised by those who live close to the proposed alignment. But then, no-one likes a railway at the bottom of their garden.

"There have also been complaints from passenger groups who want the money spent on the classic network, improving capacity for commuters rather than allowing the fat-cats to travel from Birmingham to London ten minutes quicker. And also grumbles from the rail freight community whose trains won't be allowed on the new lines at all.

"On the other hand, other lobbyists are asking why, if it is all about capacity enhancement, the new railway won't have four tracks instead of just two.

"Then there is the fact that the new railway will terminate at Euston, with no access to HS1 and the continent, and will cause half of Camden to be flattened to accommodate it. But construction isn't due to start until 2018 and not be complete until 2025 – if it doesn’t overrun badly as large projects tend to do. No doubt there will be a lot of changes in that time, if this expensive white elephant gets built at all."

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