Cabinet approves next step towards £60m bypass scheme

Cheshire East Council’s cabinet has authorised the council to make a compulsory purchase order and side road order to enable the delivery of the £60.2m Middlewich Eastern Bypass project.

Initial construction work was scheduled to start in 2021, with an estimated 20-month period, subject to planning, land agreements and funding approvals.

However, due to the severe wet weather experienced this past Winter and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ground investigation works have been delayed and won’t now be complete until later this year.

The impact of this delay has pushed the start of construction into Winter 2021/22, with an estimated 22-month construction period. The bypass is anticipated to open in 2023.

However, the scheme designers, Jacobs, have managed to mitigate some of the delay by reducing the amount of imported material to construct the bypass. In effect this has shortened the construction period and overall programme, saving approximately £3.5m in construction costs.

Cllr Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “This scheme will be a tremendous asset to Middlewich and the surrounding areas. The planned 2.6km, two-way single carriageway road will connect to Cledford Lane and the A533 to the South-East.

“The plans will also support the delivery of housing and employment in the town and include a combined cycleway and footway, as a demonstration of our commitment to active travel.”

The council also announced it is to press ahead with two key walking and cycling routes as part of a £2.8m investment to encourage people to leave their cars on the drive and get healthier.

One route will be created in the Leighton area of Crewe, the other in Wilmslow.

The council is responding to calls for safer cycle routes, which also offer a pleasant environment for pedestrians.

In Crewe, the A530 scheme will support the North West Crewe housing package and will improve walking and cycling links to the Bentley campus, Leighton Hospital and Leighton Academy.

In Wilmslow, the new scheme will link the railway station with the town centre, Wilmslow High School, the Royal London campus and Alderley Park. Here, construction could begin as early as the Autumn.

Cllr Laura Crane, cabinet member for highways and waste, said: “Our ambition is to improve walking and cycling facilities across the borough by investing in high-quality infrastructure to provide safe and attractive routes connecting local amenities and places of work.

Cycleway in Crewe

“Our 2017 cycling strategy sets a target to double the number of people cycling at least once per week by 2027. If there is one upside from the pandemic, it is that more people have taken up cycling, either to commute to work or for leisure.”

Cllr Craig Browne said: “As a council we recognise that traffic congestion and parking provision are significant issues in Wilmslow. One of the ways in which we are seeking to address both is by managing demand for car journeys.

“Where possible, we want to encourage residents and businesses to choose alternative modes of travel and this scheme is one of the ways in which we can make it safer for them to do that.”

A community consultation is ongoing for the Wilmslow scheme, while the A530 scheme in Crewe has already received positive feedback from a consultation carried out in 2019.