BETTER walking and cycling routes for Northwich and Winsford are on the cards after a new travel plan was adopted by council chiefs.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s cabinet gave the green light for a new cycling and walking infrastructure plan called ‘Walk, Ride, Thrive’ last week.

It sets out how the council will look spend money to encourage walking and cycling across the two towns as and when it becomes available over the next 10 years.

What are the plans?

In Northwich, CWAC wants to:

  • Improve cycling links along Chesterway to Northwich and Greenbank railway stations
  • Improve pedestrian links to Northwich railway station from the town centre
  • Improve cycling links along Chester Road to Hartford railway station, and continuing onto Weaverham via Northwich Road
  • Consider a new shared-use route alongside the River Weaver for pedestrians and cyclists to avoid the gyratory
  • Replace the existing stepped access off Chesterway to the River Weaver with a ramp
  • Make the towpath more accessible and future proofed against flooding
  • Improve cycling and walking links on the Winnington corridor, linking the town to the urban village
  • Provide safer pedestrian crossings to access the town centre, including at Winnington Hill, London Road and Castle Street

Improved links to rail stations are seen as short-term goals, while tow-path improvements are a long-term ambition, and CWAC describes the rest as medium-term.

Meanwhile in Winsford, the council is looking to:

  • Improve cycling links between the town centre, Wharton, Winsford railway station and Winsford Industrial Estate
  • Improve access to the Station Quarter development
  • Provide new crossings and safety improvements on the A54 and in the town centre
  • Improve pedestrian access to Winsford Academy
  • Provide safer walking routes between the town centre and Wharton

Most of Winsford’s proposals are short-term goals for the council, while links between Wharton and the town centre and new crossings on the A54 are seen as medium-term.

Just two per cent of 665 respondents to a consultation on the plans disagreed with the proposals in Northwich and Winsford, while around half either agreed or strongly agreed, and the rest were unsure.

How much will it cost?

The plan means that CWAC will be ready to make bids for cash to deliver projects improving walking and cycling routes.

Schemes for Northwich, Winsford and the rest of the borough – including Chester, Ellesmere Port and Frodsham – are expected to cost between £8.15 million and £14.5 million and carried out by 2030.

That cash will come from Government funding bids, developer contributions and cash from the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership, as well the council’s own coffers.

CWAC has also recently secured £805,000 from the Government’s emergency active travel funding for measures to maintain social distancing.

What do councillors think about it?

Cllr Karen Shore, the Labour cabinet member responsible for walking and cycling, emphasised the need for CWAC to ‘sharpen our pencils following the pandemic’ after a rise in walking and cycling uptake.

Plans to improve walking and cycling routes across the borough were been welcomed by members across the political divide.

Cllr Andrew Cooper, Labour CWAC member for Leftwich, said: “Increasing the proportion of everyday journeys made by bike in this borough is such an important tool in tackling many of the public and environmental health problems that we face.”

Cllr Elton Watson, Conservative CWAC member for Davenham, Moulton and Kingsmead, added: “Given the health and wellbeing benefits cycling and walking infrastructure provides, along with significant positive contribution it can make towards mitigating the climate emergency, I would hope that we can speed up the whole process of implementation.”

What do you think? Email