HS2 'will save the green belt'

A claim that the High Speed Two (HS2) rail project will prevent green belt development in the South East by unlocking a 'massive amount of available brownfield land in Leeds and Manchester for housebuilding' features in today's newspaper round-up.

The Sunday Times (subscription required) reports that the chairman of the HS2 project Sir David Higgins has warned that "vast swathes of countryside in South East England will be destroyed by housebuilding unless a proposed £50 billion high-speed railway is built to rebalance Britain’s economy". In an interview with the newspaper, Higgins predicted that "a new motorway would have to be ploughed through the Chilterns" if HS2 was scrapped, and "hundreds of thousands of new homes will destroy the South East’s green belt".

A leader in Times (subscription required) supports George Osborne's and David Cameron’s announcement today of a high-speed rail link from Liverpool to Hull to create a "northern powerhouse". "The arguments for bold infrastructure investment to rebalance Britain’s economy as it returns to robust growth are compelling," it says. "This announcement comes not a moment too soon."

The Sunday Telegraph reports that "the planned routes for the second stage of the HS2 rail line have been described as ‘fatally flawed’ by business leaders". Commentators, including Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce president Jonathan Mitchell and Stoke-on-Trent Council leader Mohammed Pervez criticise ministers "over reports that they are planning to route the line via Crewe instead of Stoke-on-Trent, which has fought hard for the project in an attempt to boost its economy".

The Financial Times (subscription required) reports that "Britain’s regional businesses are choosing sides in the battle between Heathrow and Gatwick over airport expansion in South East England". Heathrow has won the support of 23 regional and local chambers of commerce "stretching from Newcastle to Kent", which "backed the west London airport in a letter sent last week to the independent Davies Commission", according to the newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Ely skyline is under threat from "insensitive new development". It reports that a new bypass on raised embankments that would cut across the view of the city’s cathedral "is typical of the threat facing so many cathedral cities and historic towns and has led English Heritage, which advises the government, to propose an official designation for them that will protect their unique character". The newspaper predicts that "where Ely goes, many other historic towns may follow because of the unprecedented pressure on local authorities to accommodate new homes".

The Independent reports that "the architect Frank Gehry, designer of the Guggenheim Museum, has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is ‘shit’". Gehry made the comments is response to questions from journalists in Spain prior to receiving the Prince of Asturias prize from King Felipe. "Peering stonily from a podium he raised his middle finger in a gesture of contempt and rudeness before declaring his own genius and his disdain for the majority of his peers," according to the newspaper.

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