Construction of the new HS2 railway and its associated development will amount to around £56bn of investment in the UK over the next 20 years. It is the biggest construction project undertaken in Britain in more than a century, with a social reach proportionate to its scale.
Indeed, economic stimulus, national rebalancing of wealth and social uplift are the prime justifications for the project and we want everyone in the country to feel proud of it while it is being built and beyond.
It is to the credit of HS2 that the project has been determined to engage local communities from the start, with the objective of benefiting the many, not just a few. And that is the purpose of the HS2 Design Panel. Our design vision is to touch people, place and time.
Demonstrate the value of great design in creating places for people – that encourage diverse activities, provide access and promote inclusion. Create environments that are functional, affordable, safe and uplifting. How? By engaging with local communities and inspiring them.
The project in its entirety and in its parts must be fit for purpose, sensitive to its context, and create a sense of national pride and ownership. How? With rigorous environmental and social standards, and by creating buildings, structures and environments that add to local and national culture and heritage.
Most important is that HS2 stands the test of time for future generations. How? By establishing the panel at the beginning of the process, so that the places created and the people who use them are front of mind from the get-go. It is a strategy that I hope will be adopted by more national infrastructure projects in the future.