How HS2 will make vil­lage an ‘is­land’

Macclesfield Express - - WHAT’S ON - JOHN ED­WARDS

FOUR­TEEN East Cheshire Ram­blers joined Jo Philips, a land­scape ar­chi­tect and lec­turer at MMU, on a six-mile walk fol­low­ing the line of the pro­posed HS2 around the parish of Ash­ley, to ex­plore the im­pact on the land­scape.

The first development was the Vic­to­rian rail­way which runs north-south, dis­sect­ing the vil­lage; the sec­ond is the M56 which bounds Ash­ley to the north on its east-west axis; now HS2 will run in a shal­low arc around the south of the vil­lage ren­der­ing it an is­land among these mas­sive thor­ough­fares.

This im­pact of noise was ap­par­ent from our start­ing point in Ash­ley Church car park and in­ten­si­fied as we ap­proached the M56 foot­bridge head­ing for his­toric Ash­ley Hall. The HS2 will add to this noise in­tru­sion in­ter­mit­tently.

We were sur­prised to learn that the “HS2 land take” would be equiv­a­lent to the six lane mo­tor­way when in cut­ting or em­bank­ment, as is the case in most of Ash­ley, be­cause of the lat­eral mar­gins which must be al­lowed for trans­port at these speeds.

We were con­vinced that, with imag­i­na­tion and ju­di­cious plant­ing of trees and veg­e­ta­tion, these mar­gins might be­come wildlife cor­ri­dors and use­ful cy­cle and walk­ing paths.

Parcels of “sev­ered land,” frag­ments of land cut and ma­rooned by the track and no longer eco­nom­i­cal to farm, could be con­nected and “re-wilded.”

We reached the River Bollin, now en­joy­ing some­thing of a re­ju­ve­na­tion after the depre­da­tions of its in­dus­trial use.

The river marks the metropoli­tan bound­ary but we won­dered whether the plan­ners would even­tu­ally seek to move this south to one of the new “hard edges” of the mo­tor­way or rail­way with ad­verse ef­fect on this well loved recre­ation amenity.

Turn­ing south­west, we passed Ash­ley Mill and the old tithe barn and, as our path crossed a ripen­ing corn­field, we at­tained the high­est point in the parish with 360° views to Bow­den Church and the Bux­ton hills.

Head­ing back to­wards Ash­ley we walked along a line of ma­ture oak trees, each host­ing bird boxes, which will be felled to make way for HS2 as it rises on an em­bank­ment to take it 8m over the cur­rent rail­way and the bridge which car­ries the Mob­ber­ley road.

It then de­scends be­fore ris­ing to the em­bank­ment and viaduct over the River Bollin flood plain and the two ad­ja­cent roads.

HS2 will fol­low the line of the oak trees ris­ing to their height as it crosses above the cur­rent rail­way bridge which car­ries the Mob­ber­ley road

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