Manchester Piccadilly HS2 underground station plans ‘ready for the oven’

Architecture firm Weston Williamson + Partners has said its designs for a possible HS2 underground hub, first developed two years ago, are ready if the government chooses to rethink its HS2 bill.

Manchester City Council Leader Bev Craig and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham have voiced their objections to the HS2 Bill due to be introduced in Parliament today. Their main concern is the Bill’s proposal for an overhead HS2 station for Piccadilly.

Craig said that while the airplan would be cheaper to build in the short term, “in the long term it will cost the region’s economy much more in missed opportunities.” The city council also said the construction of concrete viaducts to support the station and the line would result in the loss of 123 acres of land for the proposed development.

Burnham echoed Craig’s concerns.

“Building HS2 aboveground at Manchester Piccadilly means the new station will be at full capacity from day one,” Burnham said. “It means the new Liverpool and Leeds rail services have to go into reverse. And it also means forever losing prime development land and the economic opportunities that go with it.

Burnham insisted that a tube station is the way to go.

“We believe there is a better plan that would do much more to level the north of England with the south,” he said. “A subway station would be an investment in building a greater northern economy and would pay for itself over time. It could also help provide a whole new line between Manchester and Leeds, which we have been promised.

“We are asking the government to listen to the North and work with us to find the right solution. This decision will have a huge impact on the future of the North for the rest of this century and the next and it is vital that it is not sold short.

The proposed HS2 underground station at Manchester Piccadilly. Credit: Weston Williamson + Partners

Weston Williamson + Partners are no strangers to station design, having completed two stations for the Elizabeth Line in London and overseeing the redevelopment of Waterloo Station in London.

The architectural firm’s proposals call for the hub to sit under a pedestrian forecourt known as Station Square. The station would also be a through station rather than an HS2 terminus, allowing high speed rail services between Liverpool and Leeds via Manchester Airport and Manchester Piccadilly.

A high-speed rail tunnel would have to be built under central Manchester for the plans to work. The tunnel would curve northeast to follow the M62 corridor.

Weston Williamson + Partners worked alongside Expedition Engineering to develop its own plans for underground stations in 2020. In a press release, the company said the plans were “ready for the oven” and the board was correct in ask the government to reconsider its plans.

“HS2 will be transformational for Manchester, yet current plans for HS2 would turn Piccadilly into a dead end, destroy much of the city and end any hope of high-speed connections to Leeds,” said Weston Williamson + Founding Partners Rob Naybour.

“We want Manchester’s HS2 transformation to be positive: our proposals therefore offer an integrated hub that would better serve Manchester’s residents, businesses and visitors, while creating new opportunities for urban regeneration in the city as well as future high – fast connections to other parts of the country,” he continued.

“Manchester City Council is absolutely right to call for a redesign of Piccadilly. Our message is clear: this redesign will not take long, as our proposals demonstrate how an underground hub is not only deliverable, but hugely beneficial.”

Learn more about proposals from Weston Williamson + Partners.

Bonny J. Streater