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Plans to widen A500 to be reviewed: council

Cheshire East is to review plans to dual part of the A500 following the scrapping of HS2 and work on a smaller scheme, which would save the council about £34m.

The council had planned to upgrade a section of the A500 from Meremoor Moss Roundabout to junction 16 of the M6, (writes local democracy reporter Belinda Ryan).

The business case for the scheme was linked to the Government’s proposed investment in HS2, with the project included in the department for transport’s major roads network programme and provisionally allocated a grant of £55.1m.

HS2 had also agreed to pay towards the upgrade, as it would have helped to accommodate its construction traffic.

At last week’s meeting of Cheshire East’s Highways and Transport Committee, councillors were told by head of infrastructure Chris Hindle: “The cancellation of the northern sections of HS2 fundamentally undermined that business case.”

They agreed officers should prepare an updated outline business case for a redefined A500 scheme to produce a fundable proposal, which would be brought back to the committee in approximately 18 months’ time for approval to submit again to the Government for grant funding.

Former Highways Committee chair Craig Browne, who proposed the recommendations, said: “I think to simply proceed with that original outline business case in the light of the HS2 decision would put us in a lose-lose position – a lose in the sense that the council would be unable to deliver the scheme and a lose in that the Government would be seen to fail to fund it as well.”

He said the proposed scheme “actually saves the council £34m of inflated costs and delivers a scheme that everybody wants to see”.

The council said the updated business case would focus on improving access to Crewe Railway Station from the A500 while keeping the key aim of the original scheme, which was to address congestion by upgrading the Meremoor Moss Roundabout and the approaches to it.

Crewe councillor Hazel Faddes said: “A smaller scheme with improvements to the Meremoor Moss Roundabout and to the Crewe transport area will be more acceptable to the Government after the loss of HS2.

“It would mean Cheshire East would not have to borrow substantial amounts of money to fund the current scheme.”

Poynton councillor Mike Sewart asked: “Can Cheshire East Council afford both this scheme and the Middlewich Bypass scheme in the near future given our financial situation?”
Mr Hindle said the council could.

“This proposal here changes the council’s contribution to the A500 from the original position that the council’s contribution to the A500 was going to be in excess of £30m, while the proposal in here takes that to zero on current estimates, so this proposal massively improves the affordability of the council’s capital programme,” he said.

Nine committee members voted in the favour of the recommendations, which also included withdrawing the compulsory purchase order and side roads order for the existing A500 scheme, pending the development of the new business case.


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