As fans will know the HS2 project will wipe out a section of our Bodymoor Heath training base but despite lodging our fair request for compensation last year, a deal is yet to be done.
I doubt Villa are alone in that to be fair but from the club’s perspective after all the investment into Bodymoor, its not just the Academy that will suffer owing to the planned route, although the training pitches will be wiped out – there will also have to be changes to account for the first team with disruption of the build and then the noise of the trains when in use.
A recent visit from rail minister Paul Maynard MP has left Villa hopeful that there will now be a more speedy resolution so we can put subsequent plans in place to deal with the changes the future will now bring to the training base.
The visit was organised by constituency MP Craig Tracey, with CEO Keith Wyness and project director Shaun Darke in attendance to give Maynard a tour of the training ground and to outline the issues we now face in detail.
The Birmingham Mail quote Wyness as saying.
‘We are hugely appreciative of the time the minister spent with us. He showed an obvious appreciation for the significant problem we face and how we are very quickly running out of time. Unless HS2 really steps up we face great uncertainty. Bodymoor Heath has been the home of the first team since 1975 and is one the country`s top academies. If we do not deal with this soon we will not be able to develop our best young players and the stars of the future. It is the lifeblood of the team. I know that every supporter will stand with me should HS2 not treat us fairly.’
MP Craig Tracey added.
‘I would rather HS2 did not go ahead at all because of the devastation it will cause to North Warwickshire. However, we need HS2 to deal with the club`s issue at Bodymoor Heath as soon as possible as they appear to have been dragging their feet on this. Aston Villa Football Club`s training base provides a home for an important institution in our community. Because of the minister visiting we were able to put the club`s case directly, so he could hear first-hand what needs to be done and the urgency of the action.’
HS2 Minister Paul Maynard explained that he was hopeful a resolution would be near.
“HS2 will provide a radical upgrade to Britain`s rail capacity. It will provide benefits to communities across the country, not just those served directly by its stations. It will transform places, raise skill levels and spread opportunities. But we also know that impacts need to be mitigated. That is why I have been pleased to visit the club and learn of these issues. Commercial negotiations between the club and HS2 Ltd are continuing. I know both HS2 Ltd and the club are working hard on this and hope that these negotiations can be concluded soon.”
Not a great start from HS2 really (insert joke about trains running on time).
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