"IT just couldn't be worse for Wimboldsley."

Those were the words of Graham Dellow, from Mid Cheshire Against HS2, on the front page of the Guardian in July 2017 when the preferred route to take the high-speed railway from Crewe to Manchester was revealed.

Now, the Department for Transport has unveiled its latest plans for phase 2b of HS2, which have seemingly proven him wrong.

The new proposals would see the planned Wimboldsley rolling stock depot increase in size from 60 to 65 hectares, while a new 800m maintenance site is also on the cards, and a doubling of tracks in the area from two to four will lead to greater loss of habitat.

Graham said: "It's just rubbish, to be honest. The whole thing is just awful.

"The depot is in the wrong place anyway – it should be nearer to Crewe – and then they have the audacity to make it even bigger.

"And then to make the comment that there will not be any increased impact on Wimboldsley Primary School is just an obscenity – how can there not be when it is going to be bigger?"

The Government's latest proposals are designed to facilitate more HS2 services at Crewe and to integrate the railway with Northern Powerhouse Rail – the planned east-west railway.

That follows last year's Oakervee Review, which called on the Government to produce an integrated rail plan (IRP) considering the north's future rail links as a whole, but this is yet to be published.

Graham believes that the latest plans for mid Cheshire are a case of 'the cart before the horse' – as they could change again in a matter of months.

The latest plans also come as the uncertainty of coronavirus continues – leaving question marks hanging over the need for a high-speed rail link.

Mid Cheshire Against HS2 is now calling for all work on the project to be stopped until the IRP is produced, the full cost of Covid-19 is known and the pandemic's impact on society is taken into account.

Graham added: "As far as we're concerned, we find it even more unbelievable that this is still going on.

"We do believe that more people will go back to work in time but the push towards working from home has been accelerated now it seems to be a win-win for everyone.

"We could not afford this when it was £56 billion. It's now £106 billion when, after Covid, so many people are going to be working from home – particularly north of Crewe."

In a foreword to the consultation document, Transport Minister Andrew Stephenson said: "The Government is committed to taking forward HS2 to transform our national rail network, bring our biggest cities closer together, boost productivity and level up opportunity fairly across the country.

READ > Leighton Hospital 'importer' of ICU Covid patients

"The Government has also, however, accepted the Oakervee recommendation that plans for HS2 and other major schemes need to be brought together in an IRP for the north and midlands.

"This consultation seeks to ensure that unnecessary delay is avoided in the event that the IRP does not support change."

For details on the consultation and to take part visit hs2.org.uk