From the moment HS2 was born, the high speed rail project has rarely been out of the headlines. Plans, proposals and the overall effect it will have on the transport industry has dominated the business news. In many circles, the innovative idea to speed up rail links has been met with genuine approval.

There has been plenty of opposition too. Many a local community has voiced it’s concern over the effect it will have on them. I suppose it goes without saying that radical change will divide opinion!

However, if the high profile project was yearning an autumnal lift, it came this week in the shape of plans to make available, government grants to communities and businesses.

Two funds will make up to £30 million available for local communities between London and Birmingham, where part of the HS2 link will run. The money will be used to invest in public projects such as the refurbishment of local community centres, nature conservation and measures to support local economies and employment.
The funds are the Community and Environment Fund and the Business and Local Economy Fund.

Who can bid?
Community groups, charities, non-governmental organisations and business support organisations will be able to bid for grants from the new funds, which could be rolled out when construction starts in 2017. Grants will be awarded until the end of HS2’s first year of operation in 2026.

The funds come in addition to the extensive plans already in place to minimise the impacts of HS2’s construction and operation.
Local authorities and environmental groups have spoken in favour of the Community Fund (CEF), similar to the Countryside Initiative which was set up as part of constructing HS1.

The CEF will support local projects that bring community and environmental benefits to areas affected by HS2. Part of the pot will fund small scale community projects, the remainder will fund larger schemes that have third party or match funding.
The Business and Local Economy Fund will invite business groups to bring forward projects that will maintain business activity and employment in their local communities.

It all looks well organised and will include engagement with local authorities and local enterprise partnerships along the route to get their feedback on the proposals for the detailed eligibility and application criteria for the fund. These are expected to be published in 2015, enabling local communities to plan ahead.

3 things HS2 will create

  1. As many as 2,000 apprenticeship opportunities will be created by HS2.
  2. Approximately 25,000 people will be employed during construction.
  3. HS2 will support growth in the wider economy and it is predicted that this could lead to an additional 400,000 jobs.

Finally, HS2 Ltd has signed an agreement with the London Borough of Camden to kick start the design of new homes for Camden Council tenants who are being displaced by the Euston-High Speed Two development.

The deal will see LBC begin design and planning application work to provide new accommodation for their social rented tenants on the Regent’s Park Estate whose flats are to make way for HS2’s London terminus.

You can read more about the latest developments on the main HS2 website.

What are your thoughts on HS2? Do you have any concerns or are you in favour of the new high speed rail link? Lets us know by posting a comment below or on our Facebook or Twitter pages.

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