On the trail of feedback in link road consultation

 The deputy leader of Cheshire East Council received a mixed response as he came face to face with residents who wanted to find out more about the proposed link road for Congleton.
Coun David Brown, who represents Congleton East, is spearheading the authority’s drive for the project.
As part of the public consultation process, he met residents viewing the plans at Congleton Town Hall on Friday, and was at a meeting in Somerford on Monday.  
On both occasion Coun Brown spoke about the route options including their advantages and disadvantages.
And there appeared to be more support for the link road in Congleton, where traffic could be reduced, than in Somerford, which would be at the route’s western end.     
Speaking at the town hall he said: “We have looked at what will be best value for money and most economically friendly and cause the least disturbance to residents. Also it benefits the housing plan and the idea is to open up business parks at Radnor Park Industrial Estate on Back Lane and the park on Barn Road so business can come into Congleton and revitalise the town centre.”
He also voiced his opinion on which route would be best in terms of the 3,500 houses that are slated for Congleton under the local plan. 
“In terms of meeting housing requirements the blue option meets that the best. But it is the most expensive and it will have a significant impact on the quarry at the back of Eaton. I believe if we are having a road then it should be at the border of Congleton,” Coun Brown said.  
And while he is in support of the link road, he encouraged community debate, whatever residents’ views were.
Looking at the plans on display in the town hall, Peter Minshall, (61), of Congleton Sustainability Group said: “I am getting some ideas of the different options but we haven’t made our minds up yet which route we prefer. The main thing is the link road must fit in with the planned development.
“The main reason is with 3,500 planned houses we will need some improvement with the infrastructure to manage the traffic generated from that. I have some more questions to ask. One will be to the Cheshire East officers about their assessment work. I want to know where they got their traffic figures from.”
Ken Wainwright, (66), lives at Radnor Bank Farm, which lies on  one of the possible routes.
He said: “I’ll believe it when I see it. I don’t think it will happen and if it is done I think the A34 Astbury to Macclesfield Road one would be most effective. Anything else would cause bottle necking. I have reservations about the cost. I think it will cost a lot more. I’m not bothered either way I just don’t think it will happen. If it goes through our ground it goes through our ground.”
Around 90 to 100 residents  attended Monday’s meeting at Somerford Park Farm. 
James Davies, of Chelford Road in Somerford said: “I think it’s terrible, especially at the moment with the potential housing that might be coming to Chelford Road.” 
Chairman of Somerford Parish Council Paul Crompton, said: “Our website describes us as a village in part of the local countryside. This village is approximately 140 dwellings.
“With all the developments and the scale of things in Somerford, it will be 625 houses. That’s an increase of 350 per cent. I don’t know of any other parish around here that is experiencing that. I think we can all agree that we have an awful lot on our plate.”
Speaking of the consultation he said: “I still believe there are five options in this consultation. A, B, C, D and no.” 
Other residents were concerned that the roads, rather than improving the traffic flow around the area, would turn their roads into a “rat run”. 
Frank Kirkham, of Brownlow Heath Lane, just off the A34, said: “Where it’s going on Sandy Lane, we are going to get all the traffic on top of what we already have. It’s going to be particularly bad on the A34 and it’s particularly going to be bad towards Congleton. It’s a rat run now!” 
Addressing Coun Brown, one Somerford resident said: “There are people like me who live within a few feet of the road and someone in a flat in Congleton. We both submit forms. Are we going to be treated the same?” 
Speaking to the Chronicle after Monday’s meeting Coun Brown said: “I think there must have been 100 people there. You can see what it means to the local community. 
“Residents are quite right to ask the right questions and it’s right for us to provide the right information. It was a very well controlled meeting and we will make further information available on the council website. We are only two weeks into the consultation process and we have to wait and see what happens.”
Cheshire East hopes a preferred route can be confirmed in the spring or summer.