HS2: The South Yorkshire street welcoming demolition

By Katie Hall
BBC News, South Yorkshire

Image caption,
Houses in Greasbro Road would be demolished if the HS2 route is approved

This week's release of the route the HS2 high-speed railway will follow as the network is expanded north from Birmingham left many upset and angry.

Some learnt they would be forced out of their homes to make way for the second phase of the £32bn project while others were told it would pass nearby.

But while many were devastated to discover HS2 will lead to their homes being demolished, some residents of a South Yorkshire street have been jumping for joy.

Greasbro Road in Tinsley has already had its fair share of heavy infrastructure projects on its doorstep.

The M1 can be found at one end, after half of the street was demolished to make way for the Tinsley Viaduct in the 1960s.

And across the road is the busy Meadowhall shopping centre, which was built on the site of a former steelworks - the catalyst for the homes in Greasbro Road being built in the first place.

Image caption,
Mohammed Sadique and his father: "We say yes"

As you walk uphill along the road from the M1 you come to a sign which marks an industrial park housing a John Lewis warehouse which attracts frequent visits from heavy vehicles.

To top it all off, two weeks ago planning permission was granted for a waste sorting depot.

So it may come as no surprise that residents like Mohammed Sadique are thrilled to discover that the proposed route for phase two could see their homes demolished.

"If you go to Cheshire they say 'no, no no'. We say yes."

'Most polluted'

The controversial rail line has already led to one house in Buckinghamshire being valued at £0 just for being close to the tracks.

For most of the homeowners of the hundreds of houses to be demolished along the route compensation is a long way from their minds.

One woman living in a row of railway cottages in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, said finding out her home was to be demolished was "like the carpet had been pulled from under me".

But there was no sign of distress for most residents on Greasbro Road, which lies south of the preferred location of South Yorkshire's HS2 station at Meadowhall. Their homes are already worth much less than the average in the area, and for Mr Sadique, getting compensation from the government seems like the best way to move on.

"We want to get out of here. Industrial units went up at the end of the road, the arena's over the road, Meadowhall's there, we get all the traffic from that. This street is the most polluted," he said.

"We won't be fighting it, but we want proper compensation."

Mr Sadique's father moved to Greasbro Road in 1958, seven years before construction began on the M1, and he feels they should have demolished the whole street then.

"This was a straight road until the motorway was built. Why are we in the middle of this, why won't they let us go?"

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The proposed route cuts through Greasbro Road while the M1 lies nearby

The Sadique family are not alone. As news spread that their homes might only have a few more years left, residents gathered on the pavement to discuss what it could mean.

The same issues kept cropping up - noise and pollution from the M1, heavy traffic from the shopping centre and arena, and the John Lewis lorries squeezing between the cars to get to and from the warehouses.

Mohammed Nazir, 61, said the pain of moving from a home he'd been in for decades would be worth it.

"Anything that bring jobs to this area is a good thing. It's better for the country, because other countries have more up-to-date systems," he said.

Trainee accountant and dad-of-one Usman Nazir, 18, said he could not wait to leave.

"This area, in terms of jobs, it's probably one of the worst areas in Sheffield.

"I think it's a great thing. My parents have lived here for 35 years, but they should take the compensation and run.

"The road seems to be getting worse. There's going to be a new waste recycling place, there's the logistics centre at the end of the road with lorries going up and down the road constantly. I've got a little boy, it's not safe for him on this street."

Not everyone on the street is happy though at the prospect of being forced out, although Fozia Farzana seems to be very much in the minority.

The 31-year-old mother of five has lived in Greasbro Road all her life and loves the community that surrounds her.

"I'm shocked, where would they expect us to go?" she asked.

"My mum's on this street, my sister, I've got relatives and friends all the way up the street.

"I've lived on this street my whole life, and bought this house seven years ago. I did this place up from nothing."

But even Mrs Farzana accepted that if the compensation was enough to start a good new life elsewhere, then it might work out for the best.

"I've got five kids, my husband is unemployed. If they are willing to give us another house in a good area then it's OK."

If the proposals get the go-ahead, work is not due to start on phase two of HS2 until the mid 2020s, and is due to be completed by 2033.

But families affected by the scheme will not necessarily have to wait that long for compensation.

The government has begun a consultation on proposals to introduce an "exceptional hardship" scheme to compensate those affected long before work begins.

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