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Taskforce urges towns and cities to become ‘HS2-ready’

An independent growth taskforce led by former Olympics chief Lord Deighton, has said towns across the country need to act now to be ready for HS2

The taskforce said that beginning to redevelop areas now would help to reap bigger benefits form the scheme in the future.

Deighton said: ‘HS2 is set to be the biggest construction project in Europe and it’s vital we harness the huge potential that it offers the UK. It’s not just a transport project and it’s not just for one central government department to deliver in isolation.

‘In our report next year, the Taskforce will challenge Whitehall and local government leaders to step up and play their part in this transformative scheme. Growth and regeneration won’t just be handed to us on a plate - we need to think big, we need to plan ahead and most importantly we need to work together if we are to really make the most of this once in a generation opportunity.’

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: ‘With more than 95 per cent of Crossrail’s budget to date being spent in the UK, I am determined that HS2 will replicate and build on this success for British businesses.

‘It is a challenging project and as I have said many times before the easy thing would be to do nothing. But this government is committed to HS2 because it is vital to Britain’s future.’

Set up by the secretary of state for transport, the taskforce has released an initial report setting out what they will be investigating before presenting their final recommendations to government at the beginning of 2014.

This initial report comes as last week, incoming HS2 chairman David Higgins told the transport select committee that he would consider bringing forward work on the northern part of the controversial line in order to speed up the benefits to the regions.

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