Second major city centre site bought to expand Piccadilly Station for HS2

A second major site next to Piccadilly Train station has been bought by HS2 to facilitate the stations expansion for the high speed rail line. The Square One building on Travis Street has been bought from property developer Bruntwood, following the sale of a site on Store Street last year. Square One, which currently contains offices for Network Rail, has been purchased by HS2, on behalf of the Department for Transport for an undisclosed fee.

HS2 say the purchase of this site is ‘pivotal’ to the construction of a new station next to Manchester Piccadilly to facilitate the high speed rail line. This comes just over a year after the sale of what is currently a surface level car park on Store Street for the same project. Plans had been granted in 2005 to turn this Store Street site into a 60-storey tower with hotel and leisure facilities.

However, this scheme never got off the ground and was eventually sold to HS2 in April 2021. :Greater Manchester unites against ‘severely suboptimal’ HS2 Bill in Parliament Current proposals for HS2 would see a 52-mile extension of the high-speed rail network from Crewe to Manchester with stations at Piccadilly and the airport.

The HS2 website says the purchases of the Travis Street site and Store Street sight are for plans to build a ‘surface level’ station adjacent to Piccadilly. A bill put before Parliament in January confirms the government’s current plans are to build the new station overground. But, Greater Manchester’s leaders have described these plans as ‘severely suboptimal’ and ‘deficient’ and would prefer the station to be built underground.

This is because the surface level station would require ‘huge concrete viaducts’ to run across East Manchester, and for Metrolink services between Piccadilly and Ashton to be suspended for at least two years while this took place.

Artist impression of an HS2 train

At a Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) meeting on March 25 it was agreed to formally oppose elements of the High Speed Rail Bill, allowing the GMCA and TfGM to petition against parts of the HS2 proposal. HS2’s plans for now would see the new station open some time between 2035 and 2040 to include six platforms at surface level, allowing passengers to access both HS2 and future NPR services, they say. There is also a provision to build a new four platform Metrolink station beneath this HS2 station, according to developers.

Ruth Todd, Chief Commercial Officer at HS2, said: “Following submission of the Bill earlier this year, seeking powers to construct and operate the railway between Crewe and Manchester, this acquisition represents another major milestone in our programme to bring high speed rail to the North. HS2’s purchase of Square One is a vote of confidence for investors locally and internationally to leverage the wider regeneration potential of the surrounding area, knowing that Manchester is set to become so brilliantly connected.” The HS2 line is predicted to cut travel times between the north and south.

A train to Birmingham from Manchester is predicted to take 41 minutes with HS2 and 63 minutes to London. Pete Bearpark, Asset Management Director at Bruntwood, added: “We are committed to creating thriving places and communities, and after 15 years under Bruntwood stewardship, we have agreed to the sale of Square One and the land surrounding it to HS2 in advance of a formal compulsory purchase process. We will use the proceeds to continue to reinvest into regional cities to drive economic growth and have a positive impact on businesses and communities.”

The first stages of construction to build this new station beside Piccadilly is not expected to start until 2025 at the earliest.

Tenants currently at Square One will stay at the site until it is required by HS2, a spokesman added.

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