Parish councillors say revised £69 million plans to upgrade a section of the A500 will cause major problems for farmers and commuters.
Cheshire East Council has submitted an updated proposal for the dualling scheme between Junction 16 of the M6 and Meremoor Moss roundabout, near Crewe, after the original application was given planning permission in April 2019.
The new application feature 16 changes, including a realignment of the route and proposals to demolish and rebuild the overbridges at Radway Green Road and Barthomley Road.
Members of Barthomley Parish Council have hit out at the new plans, saying the bridge demolitions will cause travel disruption for people in the area, including local farmers.
Parish councillors also fear landowners along the route will be hit in the pocket, with one farmer facing the prospect of losing a fifth of his farm.
The parish council says CEC should not be pressing ahead with the planning process in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis, and has called for a full consultation on the updated plans.
Want a free daily bulletin – plus breaking news alerts direct to your inbox? Then sign up to our email newsletter service!
All you need to do is type your email address into the ‘sign up to free daily alerts’ box. It’s at the top of this article.
It’s also on any stories on the website – simply click ‘subscribe’ and you can expect your first newsletter at the next release.
Want to know more before you sign up? Click here.
Decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails? No problem – you can just follow the unsubscribe link.
Parish council chairwoman Teresa Clark said: “Whilst we have come to terms with the desire of Cheshire East Council to widen the A500 between junction 16 of the M6 and the Meremoor Moss roundabout, we cannot agree to these changes without further in-depth consultation with the parish council; the village as a whole; its residents and local businesses.
“The disruption likely to be caused by the closure of the two bridges at Radway Green Road and Barthomley Road will impact on the local agricultural industry and will also mean getting from Barthomley to the M6 will take far longer for most commuters – even if the local roads can take such diversions.
“In addition, the impact on local landowners is causing much concern – we have learned that one farmer may be forced to give up one fifth of his entire farm with potentially devastating consequences for his livelihood.
“On top of all of this, we have the pandemic to contend with and we find it hard to believe that Cheshire East Council is continuing with this work in these troubled times, especially when people cannot really meet and discuss the matter.
“Our lives are likely to be disrupted by this project for months and even years – we demand Cheshire East open a wholescale consultation process with us as soon as possible.”
The section of the A500 between Junction 16 and Meremoor Moss roundabout is the last stretch of the road which is still a dual carriageway, and it is often heavily congested.
Council leaders say the dualling project, which will be funded mostly by the Department for Transport, will ease traffic problems and boost the local economy.
After planning permission for the original scheme was granted last year, CEC appointed Balfour Beatty as the main contractor, who in turn appointed Ramboll as designer. Ramboll subsequently proposed a number of amendments to the project.
The application states: “These changes, and the addition of high pressure gas pipeline diversion works, have been discussed with planning officers from Cheshire East Council and, whilst the principle, location and scale of the road scheme are largely the same, it was agreed that a resubmission of the whole scheme, to include the amended design and additional works, would be the most suitable approach.”
Other changes include widening both the northbound and southbound lanes of the A500 between Barthomley Road and Radway Greeen Road, and moving the road 10 metres to the north to avoid diversion works to a gas pipeline.
There is also a redesign of Meremoor Moss roundabout to a smaller oval shape, with the westbound approach being shifted 10 to 15 metres to the south.
CEC will need to acquire 46 hectares of land for the scheme and cabinet members have approved the use of compulsory purchase powers. Around 19 hectares would only be needed during construction and would be returned to the owners.
If the plans are approved work on the scheme would start next year, and take around 27 months to complete.