Reader's Letter: Clarification on the Hawthorn Lane temporary road closure

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Last week Cheshire East announced nine active travel plans across the county. Unfortunately, though their press release covered the whole scheme and gave little detail about the proposal for Wilmslow. Consequently, it has caused widespread confusion about what is being proposed.

Therefore, after speaking with different parts of the Highways team, I can clarify there are two different schemes:

Scheme 1 – Proposed for End of August

Road Closure at Broad Walk & Carrwood Road

This closure will stop cars from Hawthorn Lane accessing the schools in the Pownall Park area, which will also become a 20mph zone. This is being funded by the Department for Transport's Emergency Active Travel programme and will support the full re-opening of the schools there. It is due to be implemented at the end of August, but consultation with the public is now underway and temporary Traffic Regulation Orders are being advertised. Basic details of this scheme can be found here

A similar road closure happened in the same spot earlier this year when the drains were dug up and I believe it caused very limited disruption. However, this closure is a temporary measure, so it can be quickly changed if it causes wider issues.

In addition to this, a separate proposal by Wilmslow Town Council has also been made:

Scheme 2 - Still Under Consideration

Proposed Road Closure of Hawthorn Lane at Bank Square

The recent Business and Planning Act 2020 wants councils to help town centres get back up and running. This temporary closure would make the zebra crossing much easier to use, allow more outside seating for the bars and restaurants and would also stop Hawthorn Lane from being a busy cut-through. However, this proposal is still under consideration. If it is accepted, then it will be announced separately with its own short consultation period.

Finally, last week's press release also mentioned additional schemes for London Road and Manchester Road. However, these are the new cycle lanes that have already been announced and do not involve any road closures. The London Road section is already under public consultation and details of the Manchester Road section are due to be published later this month, with work for both parts completed by April 2021.

So, sorry for the confusion but I hope this now sets straight what is happening.

So far, the correspondence I have received on this mostly concerns residents worries about the extra journey time they think the closures will create. Others though have welcomed the idea to turn Hawthorn Lane back into a residential road making it far safer for pedestrians and cyclists to use. However, we will only be able to truly say what will happen if both parts of the temporary scheme are implemented and we must wait to see if that happens or not.

Best regards

Cllr Mark Goldsmith

Wilmslow West & Chorley

Tags:
Hawthorn Lane
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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Florence Collier
Tuesday 11th August 2020 at 1:36 pm
Thanks for the clarification, Mark.
These proposals, together with similar initiatives across the town, are hugely welcome: we need to take positive steps to reduce air and noise pollution and increase our levels of fitness.
The idea - apart from making it easier to socially distance - is to make it safer and more pleasant to choose walking and cycling into town rather than "nipping over" in the car causing unnecessary congestion and parking space shortages for those that actually need to use a vehicle. The number of cars on the road puts people off cycling altogether, or forces kids and adults alike onto pavements. We can't have this if we want real quality of life.
The two schemes above, taken together, mean there would be a safe route for pedestrians and cyclists to get from South Wilmslow to North and vice versa without attempting Altrincham road, as they will be able to cross over safely at Carnival Fields and the Co-op.
To residents concerned about increased traffic in other parts of the town: I honestly hear you. That said, as residents with children (and elderly friends) we are begging people to stop and imagine a place where most people choose to walk and cycle for journeys of under 20-30min on foot or by bike. It means the school run can be done in this way too. Park and stride/scoot if you have to. Perhaps invest in an electric bike if you don't feel you can manage any hills.
A welcome step in the right direction and I hope Wilmslow can get behind it!
Richard Birchall
Tuesday 11th August 2020 at 2:13 pm
I believe any proposals that reduce 'rat runs' in residential areas are to be welcomed.

If this means diverting traffic onto the main roads, so be it. It may start people thinking about how they can travel shorter distances without using a car and so reduce car traffic and make a safer and cleaner environment which is surely an objective of us all
Fred Rayers
Tuesday 11th August 2020 at 2:17 pm
It would only improve air and noise pollution if the greater use of cycling/walking exceeds the increased pollution caused by longer car journeys and greater congestion for anyone going from/to the Pownall park area going through the centre of Wilmslow.
Rick Andrews
Tuesday 11th August 2020 at 8:59 pm
The 2 proposals will have a positive impact on road safety, especially for children. Scheme 1 will have a significant impact by eliminating the risk associated with the traffic using Broadwalk, Gorsey Road and Kings Road as a short cut to avoid the town centre. (aka rat runners) and there is clear evidence that cars travelling at 20mph are less dangerous to pedestrians. The council could be considered negligent if this scheme is not implemented. Scheme 2 has many benefits for business and the Zebra crossing safety but an option could be for the road to be made one way from Bank Square to Hawthorn Grove, allowing traffic towards Kennerleys Lane.
Fred Rayers
Wednesday 12th August 2020 at 10:04 am
Rick: They will also have negative impact on road safety by increasing traffic around the Gorsey Road / Altrincham Road junction which is already a long standard problem area for pupils attending Gorsey Bank School.
Brian Fox
Wednesday 12th August 2020 at 10:36 am
Fred, a significant proportion (maybe even most) of that traffic is rat runners, not residents.

Traffic there can most likely be expected to reduce, not increase, maybe by a lot.
David Briggs
Wednesday 12th August 2020 at 12:38 pm
Whilst I appreciate the value of increased encouragement for walking, cycling and clean air - I would make two (perhaps unrelated) comments - that could either be deemed helpful - or add fuel to the fire -dependent on the prevailing view.

1. IF Hawthorn Lane were to be closed at Bank Square - the traffic lights at the Rex will have to be revised to handle the very significant increase in traffic that will need to access Water Lane - as the only route through to shops, Pownall Park and beyond to Altrincham. With the current priorities and timings - I predict tail backs all the way down Manchester Road beyond the King William (King's Head) and not just at peak hours.

2. Some investment in the "cinder paths" that run from the end of Hawthorn Walk and the end of Hawthorn Lane to the back of the Carnival field and rear of Gorsey Bank School could provide cycle ways that could then connect through Pownall Park nearly all the way to the Texaco garage on Altrincham Road. If Hawthorn Park and Hall Road were included - (recognising that these are private roads) a green, safe, traffic free route would extend right through to Grove Street and beyond - with no need to close Hawthorn Lane!

Just a thought!
Rick Andrews
Wednesday 12th August 2020 at 2:53 pm
There will be a net reduction in traffic at the Altrincham road junctions as rat runners will not be using the route. I also believe that introduction of mini roundabouts at Kings Road and Gorsey Road should be considered. The new traffic light phasing at the Amazon complex results in pulses of 15 to 20 vehicles arriving at those junctions - which is a large factor in the congestion.
Fred Rayers
Wednesday 12th August 2020 at 4:20 pm
Brian: maybe or maybe not. The only sure way would be to measure it. I used to live in Pownall Park and it was clear a lot of the traffic at peak times of day was going to one of the two schools - which cannot be described as rat run traffic that will move elsewhere if they can't use Hawthorn Lane.

Also will those who currently travel by car actually migrate to using bike/walking? An example is anyone who drops kids off at School on the way to work are very unlikely to walk to school, then walk back home to pick up the car to then go onto work.
Ade Whitaker
Wednesday 12th August 2020 at 4:22 pm
Lockdown has shown that a lot of people, myself included, can perform their jobs perfectly adequately at home. Fibre broadband speeds and collaboration tools like "Microsoft Teams" mean that office based staff simply do not need to be in the office all the time any more.

A lot of employees are thinking about their future. They don't want to go back to the daily grind, wasting time on the commute, polluting the air with daily car journeys, fighting for parking spaces etc.

Some employers are also seeing that they don't need staff in the office all the time. By allowing home working into the future, they can save on office costs, recruit from anywhere (you won't just be competing with people locally for jobs any more) and improve their employees work/life balance.

So, we need to be careful about any "traffic increase" predictions which are based on how things were pre-lockdown. I would be surprised if we don't see a dramatic, long-term reduction in the number of daily commutes. If the norm became working at home 3 days and going into the office the other 2, then we would see a big reduction in traffic. With less traffic on the roads, we might even encourage more people to walk, cycle, use e-scooters (once legal) etc.

So - we should be prepared to try out new ideas, see how they work, refine if necessary and encourage a future where the car no longer rules.
John Gosling
Wednesday 12th August 2020 at 5:24 pm
I'm not sure these proposals have been well thought through. I live on Broadwalk and regularly walk/cycle down Hawthorn Lane into town. The pavements are are not wide but they are adequate. Traffic on the Hawthorn Lane is generally slow because of the speed bumps and as a result of the parking bays which, in effect, turn it into a single track road with passing places, so cycling is also a safe and pleasant experience. Closing the road to traffic will not make a big difference to the experience of walkers and cyclists. What it will do however is force Pownall Park car users onto Altrincham Road via Gorsey Road or Kings Road, increasing the heavy congestion on Water Lane/Altrincham Road in the centre of town and increasing the risk for Gorsey Bank schoolchildren coming to and from school. Make Pownall Park a 20mph zone by all means, but leave it at that I suggest.
Kathryn Blackburn
Thursday 13th August 2020 at 7:41 am
I would love to know how people are going to manage animals going to the vet on Hawthorne Lane. And do tell how do these angelic cyclists perform their weekly shop ? Must have amazing saddle bags. I for one will be avoiding Wilmslow like the plague if Hawthorne Lane is closed off at Bank Square and keeping my silver pound well away from it.
Simon Worthington
Thursday 13th August 2020 at 8:54 am
Plenty of ideas for our able council workers to mull over at home on full pay!! Here are a few more.
Ban all heavy goods traffic transiting Wilmslow at; Handforth bypass, Atlantic Ford, Alderley Edge North bypass roundabout and Altrincham Road, Styal Road etc.
Close Green Lane and relocate bus stop to station car park.
Make Hawthorn Lane one way west bound to Kennerleys Lane and widen pavements etc.
Desmond Williams
Thursday 13th August 2020 at 9:08 am
I think this proposal regarding Hawthorne Lane is totally misdirected.access to several
business,s will be severely curtailed which are very valuable as disabled people can manage or be managed to have access.In addition the PO sorting center requires traffic
access and such a proposal must be withdrawn.
Florence Collier
Thursday 13th August 2020 at 11:30 am
Ade makes some excellent points: you can't assume that the volumes of traffic pre-lockdown will manifest themselves in the medium to long-term, and therefore "diverting" onto other roads is not necessarily going to be the big issue residents are concerned about.

And remember, the schools are introducing phased drop offs and pick ups.

Also, the proposals are designed to encourage a modal shift: individual motor vehicle to foot/cycle. Or "park and stride".

We won't know until we try them out. Give it a chance!
John Featherstone
Thursday 13th August 2020 at 12:37 pm
here we are again RAT RUNS FOR THE NUMPTYS get a grip leave thing alone its working as it is
Gary Doyle
Friday 14th August 2020 at 8:32 am
Although I appreciate the efforts to reduce traffic I believe this is ill thought out.

As a resident of Altrincham Rd I have seen first hand the impact that previous roadworks / repairs to Hawthorn Lane have on the main roads in to Wilmslow. This has resulted in stationery traffic for most of the day queuing in and out of wilmslow causing absolute chaos as local and pass through traffic are all lumped together.

As a previous post has stated Hawthorn Lane already has traffic calming measures such as speed humps and traffic bays that reduce the average speed to below 10mph for most of the day.

In addition, what happens to the Vets, opticians and childrens nursery when all this is implemented? Will they close? Will they be entitled to compensation?

What happens when people need access to the Post Office sorting office to pick up parcels?
Rick Andrews
Friday 14th August 2020 at 2:56 pm
Why so many uninformed comments and misinformation? To be clear, businesses on Hawthorn Lane will still have access via Kennerleys Lane, so there is not an issue. If anything, things will be easier as there will be no through traffic on both of these roads.

The Luddite comment that it is working as it is - so were horses and carts but times change. And Covid has accelerated changes in how businesses work. More people will continue working from home. Now is an opportunity for change which must not be missed.
John Gosling
Saturday 15th August 2020 at 11:24 am
Rick, what is clear from the proposals is that (a) all PP residents (b) all those going to/from Pownall Hall and Gorsey Bank schools and (c) all "cut through" traffic, will now be forced onto Altrincham Road. We know from previous experience the likely consequence for traffic congestion on Altrincham Road. In my view this disruption and inconvenience is a high price to pay for a marginally improved walk/cycle ride into Bank Square.
Yes it's possible that in future more people will work from home. But I suggest that the time to assess the traffic issue is not in the middle of the summer holidays during a pandemic, but once things have settled down, the schools are back and the weather has returned to North-West normality!
Catherine Dixon
Monday 17th August 2020 at 1:47 am
The road closure on Broad Walk will add 1.8 miles to every round trip my family makes from Wilmslow to Macclesfield, Alderley, Handforth... With no services for disabled people in Wilmslow, we have to go elsewhere every day. This will cost my disabled daughter £200 in fuel etc per year. More for the whole family.

If traffic generally is going to be reduced post COVID then any previously perceived problem will also be reduced so what is the point?

The worst thing is the lack of consultation. I’m sure everyone would respect a democratic process; instead, CEC has fuelled arguments between neighbours.
Helen Lister
Monday 17th August 2020 at 10:28 am
I refer to Mark Goldsmiths remarks on the proposed Road Closure at Broadwalk and Carrwood Road.

He says that a similar road closure happened on this spot when the drains were dug up saying it caused very limited disruption. This is not correct; the disruption was enormous and caused busy tailbacks on Altrincham road. There are no alternative routes out of Pownall Park for residents.

Why does the blocking of the road have anything to do with going back to school, nor anything to do with Covid19? Why spend Covid related grants on something that has nothing whatever to do with Covid?

This decision should only be based on statistical evidence:

1. Has there been any in depth analysis of the traffic going down Broadwalk and Hawthorn Lane? I have lived in Broadwalk for over 50 years and the only time there has been problem was when the road was closed for the work on the drains.

2. Has the collision data on these roads been studied? There have been very few serious incidents in the past. There are far more on Altrincham Rd and these will only increase if the traffic is forced through Wilmslow.

3. Have there been any traffic regulation order (TRO) notices for Hawthorn Lane?

4. Has there been any consultation with residents and local businesses? Has anyone thought about the impact on tradesmen, builders etc accessing properties in Pownall Park Imagine Concrete mixers, Rubbish collecting lorries and Removal vans coming down Gorsey Road.

5. There were plenty of people cycling during lockdown because the roads were empty. There are far fewer now and there will be very few in the winter months. The pavements are plenty wide enough for those who want to walk into Wilmslow.

I think it is more important to address the parking problem in Wilmslow to stop parking on Broadwalk, although it is not yet clear if traffic volume will resume to before lockdown levels.

The closure of Hawthorn Lane would severely impact people who are disabled or elderly, cannot walk long distances and who rely on their cars to go to Wilmslow for daily tasks.

Helen Lister, 49 Broadwalk
Kathryn Blackburn
Thursday 20th August 2020 at 2:47 pm
Spot on Helen.

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