As petitions to the HS2 Bill Select Committee are in full swing, HS2 Ltd are obviously working to ensure their information papers are up to date in order to be referred to in the petitioning process.
You can monitor the changes made to these information papers via the Change Log on HS2 Ltd’s page which is updated regularly.
One of November’s updates has been to the Design Policy (Information Paper D1) where a new section reads:
“5. Design development and public engagement
5.1. The Promoter recognises the importance of public engagement in the design development process. However, the exact scope and nature of public engagement will depend on the element being designed. For example, the project would expect a higher degree of public engagement on those parts of the railway that have the most significant impact on people, such as stations.
5.2. The Promoter plans to adopt the following approach for public engagement in design development:
Stations – the Promoter will undertake public engagement for stations designs. While the exact form and nature of such engagement will be developed closer to the time, it is likely to be an open engagement exercise, with public exhibitions, leaflet drops, interactive on-line materials and related publicity, reflecting the complexities of station design and the importance of their existing and potential contexts.
Key design elements – the Promoter will engage the public on the design development of key elements of infrastructure – including main viaducts, depot buildings and key ventilation shafts in sensitive areas. The engagement exercise is likely to include many of the elements outlined for stations, but will focus more on engaging the public in the locality where the infrastructure is located.
Common design elements – the Promoter will develop standard or common designs for certain permanent structures associated with the railway (such as road-bridges, foot-bridges, noise barriers). The Promoter will undertake wider public engagement on design development for common design elements, including for example interactive on-line materials, with associated local and route-wide publicity.”
Whilst the recognition of the value of public consultation on the design development process is commendable, particularly in relation to the impact upon people, it is disappointing that a desire to consult on the design of features with impacts on the landscape has not been expressed by HS2 Ltd.
We have said previously that exemplary standards of design must be at the heart of HS2, raising sights from mitigating the impacts on people, places and the environment, to delivering benefits, and so a railway line to be proud of.
The information paper also does not reveal any timescales when it comes to consulting on design development. The ‘Design Vision’ is expected to be revealed in the coming weeks but design should be embedded in the ‘process’ of HS2 at as early a stage as possible, in order to steer and deliver the exemplary standards expected by the hybrid Bill.