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HS2 design vision launched

HS2 has today launched its design vision, a framework document to guide the work of its engineering, architectural and design teams in developing the new high-speed rail system.

“The design framework and panel, first committed to by the Secretary of State for Transport when he gave CPRE’s annual lecture in 2012, has been a long time in coming,” commented Ralph Smyth, CPRE transport campaign manager. “We are delighted to see that the progress going on behind the scenes has finally been made public.

“If HS2 is to be ‘admired around the world’, as its Chief Executive hopes, fitting it carefully into the English countryside will be crucial. Controversy over Network Rail’s investment programme, where the design focus on urban areas has led to beautiful city stations but ugly bridges and wires in the rural areas between them, shows the risks of getting it wrong.

“Our landscapes are the product of thousands of years of interaction between humans and nature. Without careful consideration of local landscape character and long-term funding to manage change, there is a real risk HS2 will forever feel like something that has been plonked in at an inopportune moment. However great the vision is and however notable the panel members are, if good design is not prioritised, it will be first in line to be cut as pressure mounts on costs. CPRE will therefore continue to campaign on the Hybrid Bill before Parliament to be amended so that planning decisions are required to give significant weight to the panel’s advice.”

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