Removal of safeguarding clears the way for development along planned route

The transport secretary has formally removed planning protections for land initially intended for the northern section of HS2. 

In a written statement to parliament published today, Mark Harper formally lifted the safeguarding directions for Phase 2a of the high-speed rail scheme, the section of the line between the West Midlands and Crewe. 

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Transport secretary Mark Harper

Last October, prime minister used his speech at the Conservative Party conference to announce the cancellation of a large chunk of the scheme. 

Safeguarding is a planning tool which protect infrastructure schemes from potentially conflicting development, in this case requiring local authorities to consult HS2 Ltd on planning applications within safeguarded land. 

Lifting safeguarding will make development easier in areas previously slated for the HS2 route. 

The department has, however, continued safeguarding for land close to Handsacre, where the first phase of HS2 will connect to the West Coast Mainline. 

Harper also announced that the closure of a number of schemes created to support those impacted by the second phase of the planned scheme. 

The secretary of state re-iterated that Phase 2b safeguarding would be amended by this summer to allow for any safeguarding necessary to deliver Northern Powerhouse Rail. 

“I can confirm that this work is underway and I will set out further details regarding those areas that will come within the scope of these new safeguarding directions in due course,” he said. 

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The lifting of safeguarding is separate from the programme of selling properties no longer needed for the project, which Harper said would begin “shortly”. 

Earlier this month, the Observer reported that it was very unlikely that any land associated with HS2 would be sold before a general election 

This created speculation about the possibility of the project being revived by a future government, which was quickly quashed by the leader of the opposition.