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News Release

Nottingham

Region must embrace Toton Sidings concept


Nottingham, 12 February, 2013 - Mat Smith, Lead Director, Jones Lang LaSalle Nottingham comments on the government's decision to identify Toton Sidings as its preferred location, for the HS2 station to serve the East Midlands.

Certainty and clarity are essential for the property and development sectors, so we must welcome the government's decision. There had been talk that the route might enter Derby, but for me that was - and is - an absolute non-starter, because it would put Nottingham at a massive competitive disadvantage in the inward investment stakes.
 
Derby's politicians and business leaders are already vigorously stating their case, and pledging to throw tens of millions of pounds into diverting HS2 into their city centre.
 
However, HS2 is intended to stimulate the economies of regional centres - so a station midway between Derby and Nottingham, which is accessible from Leicester via the M1, has to be argued is the logical location.
 
Toton is also ideally placed close to J25 of the M1, and already has much of the track infrastructure that HS2 will require. Building a station there is far more cost effective than creating a route, at huge expense, through established urban centres, as happened in the 19th century.
 
I don't believe local connectivity will be a major issue. It's a good eight years since proposals were put forward for a Nottingham Express Transit (NET) route through Beeston, and on to a Park & Ride terminus at Toton, and it's surely time for that concept to move forward to reality.
 
We need the politicians and business leaders across the East Midlands to be singing off the same hymn sheet and recognise what benefits HS2 will bring to the region, to ensure we maximise its potential.
 
I suspect the decision to chose Toton will also stimulate debate about a proposed urban extension close by the sidings, put forward last October by a major regional housebuilder, Peveril Homes, and its development partner, UKPP (Toton) Ltd.
 
They envisage building 775 homes, employment space and expanded education facilities on a site, which would be linked, to both Toton Sidings and the NET terminal, creating a new community with fantastic infrastructure.
 
The presence of tram, rail and motorway connections would create a truly sustainable hub, which I am sure would attract not just home-owners, but office users, and companies looking to benefit from the increased connectivity.
  
Dramatically shorter journey times between London and major regional centres will create significant opportunity for Nottingham; both as a catalyst to attract inward investment, and to allow people to easily commute both from and to the city.
 

However, as HS2 moves forward in the coming years, everyone also has to work harder to enhance its offer to office users and other corporates considering relocation.

When Britain's equivalent of Japan's bullet trains are hurtling across the region at 225 mph, then Nottingham's 'shop window' will be open wide, but we all need to ensure that it is well stocked, with suitable development sites and new Grade A office space.
 
As I've said before, we also have to learn how to nurture the businesses that are already based here, by offering them platforms on which to expand.
 
We can't just base our inward investment strategy on hopes that a major international employer is out there, just waiting to be seduced into coming to Nottingham. Our growth and success will be through home-grown businesses too.
 
A major issue of HS2 will however be how it impacts on land values and existing schemes, along its route and in nearby locations.
It's easy to predict that prices will rise in and around Toton itself, where land with permission for residential use would currently fetch anywhere between £500,000 and £750,000 an acre.
 
More problematic though is the likely impact on schemes built along the M1 corridor, as the proposed route will impact on all the junctions from 24 to 29(a), which have been development hotspots during the last decade.
 
The risk is that some new occupiers decide not to take space, as the proposed route could cut through their sites, and some schemes could be blighted, even before formal CPO notices can be served. It's a simple equation - if demand reduces, so will values.
 
As I said at the beginning, certainty and clarity is essential for the property and development sectors, so we need to be clear on the route so everyone can move forward and focus our thinking on progress and how we make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.