High-speed rail link HS2: 'Notts will benefit more than London'
THE head of a tourism board says a high-speed rail link into the region will boost business and tourism.
Plans were announced this week to build a new station at Toton – five miles west of Nottingham – as the East Midlands hub for High Speed 2.
When the line is constructed, journey times from Toton to London will be 51 minutes and people will be able to travel from Nottingham to the capital in just over an hour.
But Jennifer Spencer, chief of executive of Experience Nottinghamshire, says the new link will add to the appeal of visiting the city, rather than taking people living here to the capital.
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She said: "The high-speed rail plans will open up the city, making it more accessible for visitors, whether they are coming to Nottingham for leisure or business.
"The short travel time means it will be viable for Londoners to visit Nottingham for an evening, and also make Nottingham even more appealing as a short-break weekend destination.
"For the business tourism market, ease of access for conference organisers is key, so a short travel time to Nottingham will only increase the city's appeal for meetings, conferences and business events."
Mrs Spencer said the development of the rail line – which is set to open in 2032 – would work well with new attractions in the pipeline.
She said: "These plans are complementary to the other long-term plans for tourism in the city, such as the proposed developments at Nottingham Castle and a new Robin Hood visitor attraction at Sherwood Forest."
The plans for the castle include a gallery devoted to Robin Hood and the history of the city.
They also include bringing the caves under the castle back into use and a new visitor centre and cafe, at a total cost of £26 million.
Further north in the county, a £13 million Robin Hood attraction in Sherwood Forest is set to be developed by spring 2015 with 360,000 visitors expected each year.
Simon Seligman, head of communications for Nottingham Playhouse, said a high-speed rail link would bring in theatre-goers from further afield.
"Purely from the theatre's perspective, anything that widens the catchment area for the city's cultural offer is positive," he said.
"It is very hard for national theatre critics to get back to London after a show if they don't want to stay overnight.
"If there is potential for trains running quicker, then immediately the life of a very busy theatre critic coming out of London, where many are based, becomes easier. That's a real positive."
Lynn Hanna, head of communications at Nottingham Contemporary, also welcomed the potential boost to tourism.
"Art and culture at all levels depend on exchanging ideas, often through travel, so HS2 will be good for art in the city," she said.
"High-speed rail is also very important for Nottingham's cultural tourism. Nottingham Contemporary has many visitors from London and Birmingham – this is bound to encourage more to come, spending money here.
"Generally, HS2 will make the cultural map more connected.
"We all know we have an important arts scene here and HS2 is going to encourage many more people to discover it."
Richard Robinson, cabinet member for culture at Broxtowe Borough Council, said councillors at a cabinet meeting welcomed the HS2 and the potential growth it would bring to the area in terms of housing and jobs.
He said a further period of consultation was agreed, which would give the council time to consider what other positive impact it might have on tourism and the borough overall.