Balsall Common HS2 viaduct is ‘a big white concrete elephant’ – says Meriden MP - The Solihull Observer

Balsall Common HS2 viaduct is ‘a big white concrete elephant’ – says Meriden MP

Solihull Editorial 29th Mar, 2023   0

THE LACK of meaningful ‘engagement’ over the Balsall Common viaduct was just one issue raised in Parliament during a debate on how communities have been treated by high speed rail company HS2 Ltd.

Meriden MP Saqib Bhatti, led a debate in the House of Commons on HS2 Ltd and local community relations.

During the debate Mr Bhatti highlighted the unique nature of the Meriden constituency in that it reflects every aspect of the HS2 debate.

He noted it has the interchange station and the related Arden Cross development, but also has HS2 Ltd affecting villages such as Balsall Common and Hampton in Arden, damaging the green belt.

The Conservative MP took HS2 to task over the “big, white concrete elephant” when describing the design of the Balsall Common Viaduct.

He said this was compounded by HS2 Ltd’s lack of any alternatives to the design of the viaduct, despite other, more visually appealing designs for viaducts in other parts of the country.

Mr Bhatti emphasised the need for HS2 to draw inspiration from the nation’s rich history of inventors and architectural icons such as Sir Christopher Wren and Brunel, and criticised plans, likening the concrete structures to “spaghetti junction” and questioning why they weren’t trying to build something more aesthetically acceptable.

Mr Bhatti said: “It is not too late; we can and we should demand better.”

Huw Merrimen, Minister of State for Rail and HS2, said: “Efforts should be made to learn from mistakes.”

Talking about HS2 and effective communication, the Minister stressed that he was “committed to making sure that issues are resolved as quickly as possible and lessons are learned for the future”.

Mr Bhatti said: “I have a lot of time for the Minister and I know that he was an excellent Chair of the Transport Committee – but he should know that I will keep coming back on these issues, I will keep requesting debates and I will keep demanding answers.”


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