How HS2 will make village an ‘island’
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