Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced £70 million funding to support local communities and road safety along the HS2 route between London and the West Midlands.
This week the government has confirmed its commitment to HS2 with the Transport Secretary (pictured) stating: “We need HS2 now more than ever. We’re facing a rapidly approaching crunch-point. In the last 20 years alone, the number of people travelling on our railways has more than doubled and our rail network is the most intensively used of any in Europe.
“We need HS2 for the capacity it will bring on the routes between London, the West Midlands, Crewe, Leeds and Manchester, as well as the space it’ll create elsewhere on our transport network.”
The £70m is made of three separate funds – the HS2 Community and Environment Fund (CEF), the Business and Local Economy Fund (BLEF), which together total £40m, and a £30m road safety fund.
The CEF will help enhance community facilities, improve access to the countryside and conserve the natural environment along the HS2 Phase 1 line of route, while the BLEF will support local economies in areas where businesses may experience disruption from the construction of HS2.
The two funds will provide £40m which is set to be allocated at a regional level: £15m for the Central area (Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Buckinghamshire); £7.5m for Greater London; £7.5m for the West Midlands (Birmingham, Solihull and Coventry); and £10m unallocated to allow flexibility to fund cross-border or route wide projects.
The allocations were made by Cathy Elliott, the independent chair of the CEF and BLEF funds, following recommendations from the House of Commons HS2 hybrid Bill Select Committee.
She said: “Allocation of the funds in this way allows communities to have an indication of the level of funding available while maintaining some flexibility to ensure that the overarching objective of the funds are met.
“Allocating the funding on a regional level will allow the funding of larger schemes which are likely to deliver a long lasting legacy.”
Community groups, charities, non-governmental organisations and business support specialists will be able to bid for grants from the CEF and BLEF funds, which are expected to be rolled out when construction starts in 2017 and will be awarded until the end of HS2’s first year of operation in 2026.
A separate £30m road safety fund will be used to make improvements in places along the line of route – for instance to support traffic calming, safer junctions or better pedestrian crossings. Further details on this fund will be announced in due course.