MACCLESFIELD  CIVIC  SOCIETY

Working for a town to be proud of

 

 

OPINION

 

 

On these pages we will present an occasional series of views on Macclesfield topics that may be of interest to members as well as to others.

They will not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.

 

Please email any comment you may have on the views expressed here to macclesfieldcivicsociety@virginmedia.com. We intend to publish a selection of comments received. Please include name, postal address and whether you agree to having your comment shown here. Postal and email addresses will not be shown.

 

From Mr A Pedersen we have received some notes on topics related to Macclesfield:

 

     1. A View on the Regeneration of Macclesfield Town Centre

    2. Air pollution in Macclesfield

    3. Traffic Congestion

    4. The arrival of HS2 to Macclesfield

    5. Uncoordinated Developments 

 

 

1. A View on the Regeneration of Macclesfield Town Centre

 

The following is an edited version of a letter published in the Macclesfield Express in August 2018:

 

We need a scheme that is unique to Macclesfield, not a copy of our neighbours’. What is unique to Macclesfield is the views east towards the foothills of the Peak District. When our visitors return home they should feel they have been to the Peak District. This, plus easy parking, will make them come back. Here is the outline of a regeneration scheme which takes advantage of our great views:

 

A phased 2-level cultural, recreational and shopping centre on the eastern side of Mill Street, incorporating a new Macclesfield Museum, tourist information office, library, a multiplex cinema and a selection of shops, with a variety of flats above.

 

Phase 1: Poundland to Back Wallgate: Properties facing Mill Street;

Phase 2: Back Wallgate to Queen Victoria Street: Properties facing Mill Street and Queen Victoria Street; the scheme could stop here, or continue with…

Phase 3: Queen Victoria Street to Pickford Street: Properties facing Queen Victoria Street and Mill Street; (phase numbers are given for identification only).

 

The northern limit of phase 1 could be formed by a glass covered courtyard on the site of Poundland, opposite Castle Street. With in- and outdoor cafes the courtyard will provide fine views to the hills, including from Castle Street, with walkways south on two levels, both with views and populated by smaller artisan and specialist shops, cafes and bar/restaurants. Conventional shops would front Mill Street.

 

Back Wallgate forms the boundary between phases 1 and 2, with the upper walkway bridging the gap with an enclosed bridge with views. Phase 2 may house a multiplex cinema with conventional shops fronting Mill Street. An entrance with a lift to the cinema and shops could be provided on Queen Victoria Street for visitors arriving by bus, car or train, or from the east of Macclesfield. Several levels of car parking could be provided here with high level entry and low level exit via Queen Victoria Street.

 

If there are enough subscribers to phases 1 and 2 the cinema could become the anchor for phase 3, being closer to the leisure areas to the south. There could also be a gym and/or more specialist and artisan shops here next to the bus station.

 

Getting this off the ground will not be easy. After holding a design competition Cheshire East could start the ball rolling by committing to the civic facilities, or by putting £10 million into a regeneration fund for the area and invite property owners to join in with their properties, at a fair valuation. After a year or so the council could begin talking about compulsory purchase of key properties not yet committed to the fund.

 

Meanwhile the council should restore the views that once blessed the area behind the town hall. They should permit an in- and outdoor cafe with views to be built there. And they should spruce up Churchill Way car park.

 

 

2. Air pollution in Macclesfield

 

An estimated 40,000 excess deaths are caused annually in the UK by air pollution. This corresponds to a minimum of 35 excess deaths caused annually by air pollution in the old and densely inhabited town of Macclesfield.

 

Cheshire East Council’s (CEC’s) Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) informs us that there are five Air Quality Management Areas (AQMAs) in the town. The air pollution in these areas is primarily caused by traffic, both exhaust and non-exhaust. The AQMAs are (with the measures considered by the Action Plan): 1. Park Lane (Road parking and parking time); 2. Cross Street (Review the A523/Byrons Lane junction, possibly redesign as a roundabout); 3. London Road; 4. Hibel Road (Review A523/A537 roundabout); 5. Broken Cross (Parking restrictions).

 

Given the seriousness of Macclesfield’s air pollution problem – causing 35 or more excess deaths annually - the AQAP measures considered by CEC are not radical enough. They will not result in material, if any, improvements in the air quality of the five AQMAs or in the rest of the town, and they are unlikely to lead to any reduction in the number of deaths caused by air pollution.

 

However, a project not considered by CEC, could materially improve the air quality of all our AQMAs as well as improve the environment of the town centre and the town generally. I have called this the Macclesfield Environmental Improvement and Infrastructure Project, MEIIP for short. It consists of a southerly extension of the Silk Road combined with a joined-up link road around the south and south-west of Macclesfield. See ‘Traffic Congestion’ below for more details and maps.

 

With the MEIIP and suitable traffic management measures in place, both heavy and light through traffic can be directed round the town, avoiding the AQMAs and town centre roads. A weight limit of 7.5T may be imposed on the whole town, access and deliveries excepted. The AQMAs and the town centre would see significant air quality improvements and we would see a reduction in air pollution related deaths in Macclesfield.

 

In addition to its main purpose of reducing the number of deaths, the MEIIP would help to solve some other issues affecting the town. These include traffic congestion, the arrival of HS2 and encourage the drafting of some coherent master plan(s) for developments to the south and west of Macclesfield, to replace the current free-for-all developers are enjoying there.

 

 

3. Traffic Congestion

 

During parts of the working day many of Macclesfield’s major roads and road junctions are choked with traffic. All through traffic must pass through the town centre. This is another issue where the proposed Macclesfield Environmental Improvement and Infrastructure Project (MEIIP) can help.

 

The MEIIP consists of a southerly extension of the Silk Road combined with a proper joined-up link road between the A523 London Road and the A537 Chelford Road, running south and south-west of Macclesfield. The Silk Road extension should run parallel with and east of the railway line to stay clear of dwellings to the maximum extent and to avoid creating polluted street canyons. This will ensure that the effect of the MEIIP on air quality in nearby residential areas is kept to a minimum.

 

In detail, the MEIIP should start from the Silk Road’s junction with Buxton Road, follow the level of the railway line and run below Brook Street and Windmill Street, where it will begin to rise to a junction with the existing road network near Byron’s Lane. See maps below.

 

Along this sector, and possibly along Winterton Way, some undertakings will be displaced. These can be relocated to land between the MEIIP and the railway line/A523 London Road, see the hatched area on map.

 

The MEIIP will then begin to move away from the railway line, cross the River Bollin and continue south to a junction with the A523 London Road and Winterton Way. From that junction the MEIIP will continue as a joined-up link road between the A523 London Road and the A537 Chelford Road. It will first run via a re-aligned Winterton Way, cross the West Coast Main Line as intended in the 1980s and then across and south of the South Macclesfield Development Area to the A536 Congleton Road. To ensure continuity the junction with Congleton Road must be located south of the Rising Sun pub. From that junction the MEIIP will continue west and north to a junction with the A537 Chelford Road near Henbury.

 

At Brook Street or Windmill Street access southwards could be provided down to a cycle path along the MEIIP as far as the A523 London Road junction. From there cyclists and pedestrians could share two paths to the A536 Congleton Road, while one shared path to the A537 Chelford Road should suffice. These paths would offer many the option of safe use of healthier modes of transport.

 

From the Henbury end of the MEIIP a link could be built north to the B5087 Alderley Road and the new King’s School. This link would give access from there to the major road network and the new HS2 railway station (see below) via the Chelford Road junction, without using town centre roads. 

4. The arrival of HS2 to Macclesfield

 

These notes consider two locations for a Macclesfield HS2 railway station: a) The present railway station and b) A railway station on the South Macclesfield Development Area (SMDA), west of the Lyme Green Business Park.

 

a) The present railway station.

 

Pros:

Central location on Waters Green

Reasonable pedestrian access from/to the town centre for a fit person

Reasonable access when arriving by local or inter-town bus services

 

Cons:

Poor car access from most areas of the town

Sunderland Street and Waters Green often suffer from congestion

Very poor access for cyclists

Poor access from other towns and villages which HS2 could serve

Poor connectivity when departing by local or inter-town bus services

No obvious sites for new employment developments of a regional scale, needed to support the HS2 railway station

Very poor parking facilities: only 57 parking spaces available, Wilmslow has 120, Kidsgrove now has 200, whereas 500 to 800 spaces will be required by HS2, for which there is no obvious nearby location

The current 57 parking spaces are occupied several weeks every year by some swings and roundabouts – with HS2 this situation would become an embarrassment for the town

 

b) A new railway station for both HS2 and other national and local services on the South Macclesfield Development Area.

 

This area lies west of the Lyme Green Business Park, where a bridge was planned to take Winterton Way across the West Coast Main Line towards Congleton Road. To make this location viable the Macclesfield Environmental Improvement and Infrastructure Project (MEIIP) proposed elsewhere is again required. The present town centre railway station would then be used by local services only and could be given its old name, Macclesfield Central.

 

Pros:

A modern railway station built to up-to-date designs and specifications

Good access via the MEIIP from most areas of the town

Good access via the MEIIP from other towns and villages which HS2 would wish to serve

Very good access for cyclists

Good connectivity with remodelled local and inter-town bus services

Very good parking facilities anticipated

Sites for major employment developments of a regional scale to support the HS2 railway station would be readily available

 

Cons:

Non-central location meaning poor access to the town centre, requiring the use of local bus, rail or taxi services

 

When deciding on the location of our HS2 station regard should be given to the easy access which the proposed MEIIP will provide to the new HS2 station, the SMDA and to other areas of the town. Benefits derived from that proposal also include a significant reductions in air pollution in the town and in its AQMAs and a reduction in deaths caused by it. Level and safe access for cyclists is offered.

 

The benefits also include environmental improvements in the town centre, with the removal of through traffic and the possibility of introducing a 7.5T weight limit on the towns roads. The MEIIP should encourage the development of the SMDA and south-west Macclesfield to be carried out in a coordinated manner, with the MEIIP taking the traffic created by these developments. Taking all this into account, the best location for our new HS2 station appears to me to be on the SMDA. It could be named Macclesfield South.

 

Even with a HS2 station located on the SMDA, the car parking facilities at the present station should be expanded. The showman’s fairs held there should be relocated. Pickford Street and Duke Street car parks and the north-eastern corner of South Park are all possible alternative venues for these fairs.

 

Only 200m HS2 train sets will serve Macclesfield. Platforms at Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford, where our HS2 services are scheduled to call, are also too short for the full 400m train sets. That means Macclesfield services will also have to stop at Birmingham Interchange to join or separate from other trains, in order to obtain maximum capacity from the congested HS2 line south of Birmingham.

 

Between Macclesfield and London Virgin Trains’ Pendolinos stop at Stoke-on-Trent only. Our HS2 services will stop 4 times: at S-o-T, Stafford, Birmingham Interchange and Old Oak Common, and they will use existing railway lines via Stafford, with pinch points at Stone (25mph), the Shugborough Tunnel and Colwich Junction (45mph), not joining the fast HS2 line until Lichfield. HS2 trains will also be slower than the tilting Pendolinos on existing railway lines.

 

As a result, the planned HS2 services between Macclesfield and London are unlikely to improve on the journey times of the present Virgin services. Our HS2 services will also continue to use scarce capacity on the busy West Coast Main Line. HS2 is a good idea in many other respects, but it seems wasted here.

 

For more views on this and other HS2 issues visit my website https://www.hs2issues.com/

 

 

5. Uncoordinated Developments

 

Proposals for the development of the South Macclesfield Development Area (SMDA) and south-west Macclesfield are currently being made, without any coordination or guidance from Cheshire East Council.

 

For example, the developers of the SMDA, lying between the railway line to the east and Congleton Road to the west, are seeking access to their development via the residential Moss Lane to the north. This is in direct conflict with the 2017 Local Plan Strategy. That strategy stipulates the delivery of a link road between Congleton Road and London Road. It also says that no development is expected to be served from the existing road network to the north.

 

Traffic generated by the SMDA, by Barratt’s present and future developments off Moss Lane and by increased through traffic created by the ‘improvements’ proposed for the eastern end of Moss Lane, will no doubt lead to more traffic misery for residents on the entire length of Moss Lane. Solution: again the MEIIP.

 

Equally bad: A developer of part of the area of south-west Macclesfield located between the A536 Congleton Road and the A537 Chelford Road has proposed that ‘his’ link road between these two roads should terminate at a junction on the A536 to the south of the Rising Sun pub. But the developers of the SMDA to the east of Congleton Road have proposed that ‘their’ link road between London Road (Moss Lane they say) and the A536 Congleton Road should terminate at a junction on the A536 to the north of the Rising Sun pub, not connecting with the A536 to A537 link road terminating some hundred metres to the south.

 

This will lead to a capacity problem on the length of Congleton Road between the two junctions, possibly necessitating a controlled junction for the waste disposal site and the Rising Sun. Joined-up thinking should lead to joined-up roads, such as the MEIIP. But not so in Cheshire East it appears.

 

Without joined-up link roads, the SMDA, the developments to the south-west of Macclesfield and developments along Chelford Road will just channel additional traffic onto our antiquated road infrastructure and add to the air quality problems of the town. The developers will be adding to the town’s problems, not reducing them. Cheshire East should provide the developers with coordination and guidance and insist that they comply with the Local Plan Strategy.

 

Developing the SMDA, south-west Macclesfield and along Chelford Road can be done in a coordinated way, using the joined-up MEIIP to guide the drafting of some coherent master plans for the developments. And the MEIIP will cut deaths in Macclesfield caused by air pollution and ease the pressure on our road infrastructure.

 

A Pedersen

Macclesfield