All Change For Crewe scheme to prepare town for HS2 population boom
PUBLISHED: 17:56 17 March 2015 | UPDATED: 17:56 17 March 2015
Big changes are planned which aim to make Crewe even more important
Crewe has been famous for many years for its railway station, its luxury cars and its production line of young footballing talent, but a project now underway is aiming to put the town on the map for other reasons.
The All Change For Crewe scheme is intended to make the town a more attractive place to live, work and do business. The HS2 rail link is the highest profile development planned for Crewe but it is just one part of a much wider programme which could transform the town in the next 15 years.
By the time HS2 opens in 2027, the plan is for Crewe to be a leading centre for engineering and manufacturing with a population of 100,000 – an increase of roughly 20 per cent on today’s figure.
And when passengers on the new high speed rail link reach Crewe their first glimpse of the town will be of a new terminus which will be built to the south of the existing station. HS2 will cut the travel time from Crewe to London from 80 minutes to 54 minutes and Jez Goodman, the economic development and regeneration manager for Cheshire East Council, said: ‘There are four or five services an hour at the moment and demand is not diminishing.
‘As property prices overheat in the south east, the attractiveness of Cheshire becomes greater and the impact of being better connected will not only be felt in Cheshire, but across Cheshire and the surrounding areas.’
Millions of pounds are also being invested in new roads, leisure facilities and business parks around Crewe and a new technical college is due to open next summer. The university technical college will offer traditional and vocational qualifications to up to 800 14-19-year-olds who want to work in engineering. Jez added: ‘The whole project is aimed at increasing the economic productivity of Crewe and the surrounding area. It’s about attracting investment, ensuring jobs are there and that there are people learning the relevant skills for those jobs. There’s not one single initiative that will do all of this, there has to be a combined effort.’
The new college will work with established local businesses including Bentley who employ almost 4,000 people in Crewe. Bentley also recently announced a new £40m research and development centre and the good news that their new luxury SUV, the Bentayga which will be in showrooms next year, will be built in Crewe.
Bentley chairman and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer said: ‘With Bentley’s new research and development centre, we will develop a new generation of Bentleys, which will continue our commitment of luxury, performance, quality and engineering excellence. Bentley is the number one luxury car manufacturer in the world and driving more investment into our headquarters and attracting talent is key to continuing our success.’
The All Change For Crewe project is also targeting the town centre with attempts to attract quality shops and restaurants to the town and the lifestyle centre now being built will open early next year and will house a swimming pool, library and adult and social care facilities.
Jez said: ‘The new lifestyle centre will be great because it will bring more people into the town centre and that can only benefit the shops and businesses already there and those who move in to Crewe.’
Work is expected to begin later this year on a scheme which could bring economic and environmental benefits to Crewe.
The town could be sitting on a geothermal goldmine with reservoirs of water at or above 100 degrees Celsius contained in rock deep beneath the surface. If estimates by the British Geological Society are correct, the water could help provide huge amounts of energy for the National Grid for decades.
The Cheshire Basin is one of only six deep geothermal resources in the UK, with water as far as 5km beneath the countryside just to the north of the town centre. Exploratory work funded by a £200,000 government grant is underway and if it proves successful, extraction could begin this summer.
Cheshire East Council Leader Michael Jones stressed that the process would not involve the controversial fracking procedure and added: ‘We could be looking at an opportunity to heat new homes in the area with this new technology as well as using heat exchange technology to create electricity.
‘This is an incredibly exciting project and could well catapult Crewe on to the national platform as a global player in energy production.
Where it is: Crewe stands in the south east of Cheshire. The A534 and A5078 take traffic to the town and its famous railway station is just a short walk from the centre. Typing CW1 2DD into your satnav should take you to the town centre.
Where to park: there are pay and display car parks around the town centre some on-street parking is available too. The Civic Centre long stay car park costs £2.90 to park all day.
Did you know: Among the notable people associated with Crewe is Jimmy McDonald who was born there in 1906 but emigrated to America with his family when he was just six months old. He went on to become the head of Disney’s sound effects department and was the voice of Mickey Mouse for 30 years.
Find out more: Crewe Heritage Centre re-opens next month and can tell you all you ever wanted to know about the town’s association with the railway, creweheritagecentre.co.uk. For a more general introduction to the town, try the Crewe and Nantwich Information Centre, in the civic centre in Nantwich (about four miles to the south west of Crewe) 01270 537359.