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Go ahead for new National College for High Speed Rail

City planners dismiss critics of HS2 as work can now start on institute which will train the next generation of rail engineers

Pic: Bond Bryan Architects
Work can now start on the new National College for High Speed Rail

City planning chiefs have welcomed the new £22 million National College for High Speed Rail in Birmingham as they gave the project the go ahead.

The three-storey college, to be built on land next to the Digbeth Branch Canal at Birmingham Science Park Aston, will provide specialist vocational training and contain workshops, classrooms, a café and office space.

There will also be a car park and external teaching area containing railway tracks, masts and social space next to the canal and support those working on the HS2 high-speed line between Birmingham and London.

Speaking at today's meeting of Birmingham City Council's planning committee, Peter Douglas Osborn (Con Weoley) welcomed the investment in engineering training and said it was something the city should have invested in years ago.

Related: New images of National College for High Speed Rail

He also dismissed critics of the planned HS2 railway line and compared them to those who objected to infrastructure developments in the past.

"But rather than large land owners, we have small housing developers, who feel somehow having high speed rail is detrimental to their standard of life," he said.

"It will be a minimal affect of their lives and the environment, especially given the alternative is an eight lane motorway.

"2,000 apprentices coming to Birmingham will show the rest of the country that if they want to learn anything they should come to this city."

Coun Peter Griffiths (Lab Kings Norton) welcomed the news and suggested it would further cement Birmingham's links with the rail industry which include the one-time vicar of Kings Norton, Rev W Awdry, being the author of the Thomas the Tank engine stories.

The college, which will have a sister site in Doncaster, is due to welcome students from September 2017. It was designed by Sheffield-based Bond Bryan Architects and Willmott Dixon is the main contractor.

John Evans, chief executive of the college, added: "The National College for High Speed Rail will have a major impact on the ability of the UK rail supply industry to develop a suitable and sustainable workforce to deliver HS2 and other infrastructure projects in the future."

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