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HS2 High-Speed Rail Project latest updates

The final design for the Thame Valley Viaduct, which is located within the Northern Vale and traverses the low-lying Thame Valley in South East England, has been revealed by the UK’s High Speed 2 (HS2). The 880m-long bridge, designed to cross the flood…

Decision date for plan to bring 100s of HS2 HGVs through village

Controversial plans to bring hundreds of HGVs through a Solihull village each day have been recommended for approval.

Councillors will be advised to grant permission for lorry routes along Balsall Common[1] roads at next week’s special planning committee meeting.

Routes along Hallmeadow Road – HS2’s preferred option – and Waste Lane have caused major unease, with more than 2,700 people signing a petition against the plans[2] earlier this year.

READ MORE:Questions posed over controversial road closure in Solihull[3]

But in a huge blow for the campaign, papers published late yesterday confirm that the committee will be asked to give the routes the go-ahead.

Councillors will now have to decide whether to go with officers’ recommendations at the all-important decision session on Wednesday (June 30).

A report on the Hallmeadow Road scheme said: “[Highways officers] have reviewed the proposals and consider that subject to conditions, Hallmeadow Road is suitable to cater for the level of lorry movements proposed in terms of highway safety and free flow of traffic.”

And on the Waste Lane application road chiefs ruled that, having reviewed the plan, it “would not generate road safety or congestion concerns over and above” what a previous Environment Statement had identified.

HS2 contractors say Hallmeadow Road offers the opportunity to avoid taking traffic through a much busier section of public highway.
HS2 contractors say Hallmeadow Road offers the opportunity to avoid taking traffic through a much busier section of public highway. (Image: HS2 Ltd)

There was a massive outcry when plans for the routes were submitted to Solihull Council back in March.

The petition[4] raised at the time said that the only option which was acceptable to residents would be a “trace-line haul route” linking the Park Lane and Waste Lane compounds and avoiding the use of public roads.

Alison Hathrell, among the signatories, said: “I don’t want the village to be overrun with large lorries when there is a better alternative.”

While another backer, Martin Clark, said the plans as they stood would “create an unacceptable level of additional road risk to people who live in and travel through Balsall Common.”

The backlash saw West Midlands Mayor Andy Street call an online meeting in early April to discuss residents concerns around parking, pollution and traffic.[5]

And later that month the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) spoke to the Hardwick family, who run the Annora Guest House, and warned the Hallmeadow Road plan could put their business in jeopardy.[6]

Next week’s meeting could prove a major flashpoint between residents, the rail project and Solihull’s planners.

There will be intense pressure on councillors to demand a rethink, although many of HS2’s critics have always argued that local authorities have few options to block unpopular elements of the scheme.

Haul route plans:

  • Permission for 200 HGVs each way per day along the A452, Kelsey Lane and Waste Lane, with a small number continuing along Hodgetts Lane and Truggist Lane.
  • Permission for up to 200 HGVs each way per day along both parts of Hallmeadow Rd, with a new access off the roundabout by the Balsall Common Medical Centre to create a haul route behind the Legion and Unity/Carstins Garage towards Waste Lane.

Back in 2019, Cllr Jim Ryan – a veteran member of the planning committee – had claimed that laws passed by Parliament had given HS2 “extraordinary power to do what they want to do.”[7]

In their report, council officers note that it could only refuse the haul route plans if they can prove the route “ought to, and could reasonably, be modified” in line with certain conditions in the High Speed Rail Act.

Following the furore earlier this year, a HS2 spokesman had insisted it had given careful thought to its proposals.

“Our priority is to minimise impacts on local communities wherever possible,” they said.

Next week’s meeting will also have to decide on two more minor applications linked to (a) accessing land to the south east of Station Road and (b) the diverted Kenilworth Greenway.