A SOLUTION to one of Northwich’s most hated traffic hotspots could finally be on the horizon.

Council chiefs will spend the next year working with the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to find the best ways of cutting congestion at Winnington Bridge, Winnington Hill and along the A533 into town.

A sum of £150,000 – split equally between Cheshire West and Chester Council and the LEP – will be spent in 2019-20 preparing a business case that will assess different options to ease congestion between Barnton and Northwich.

It is hoped the work could also improve air quality, provide new opportunities for walking and cycling, and help support new homes and jobs being created nearby.

Cllr Robert Cernik, Labour CWAC member for Winnington and Castle, said: “This is just the first stage in a much-needed development for Northwich.

Northwich Guardian:

“Winnington Hill and the small turn bridge is the main route in and out of the town from the M56 motorway.

“The existing bridge is a unique piece of our industrial heritage but cannot come close to coping with the traffic demands from very large housing developments and rapidly growing business needs.”

A report presented to the Cheshire and Warrington local transport body last week highlighted that the Government often makes funding for major projects available – but gives councils short deadlines to get their schemes off the ground.

The idea behind this move is to give CWAC a fully-prepared business case which can be ‘taken off the shelf’ whenever the Government comes forward with a new funding opportunity – which the LEP expects to happen next in April 2021.

Cllr Lynn Gibbon, Conservative CWAC member for Marbury, said: “I am delighted that the LEP is putting this money in.

Northwich Guardian:

“We need to have a business case that is shelf-ready to put forward to Government for any funding opportunities that may come through.

“However, I do think that developers also have a responsibility as well. They are building all these new houses and the infrastructure has got to be there, so developer contributions should also go to this project.”

The LEP also hopes that Government funding for new housing could also be provided following the work.

Barnton Parish Council handed a 4,767-name petition over to CWAC in December 2017, calling for proposals to be drawn up to relieve congestion at Winnington Bridge.

Since then CWAC published its Northwich transport strategy with ideas on how to ease congestion on the A533 – including providing a new bridge between Winnington and Barnton.

But Cllr Gibbon believes this could cause an increase in traffic through villages such as Comberbach and Barnton, and she wants plans for a new link road along the old TATA railway line to be reconsidered in the business case instead – something which was ruled out in the transport strategy.

“That would take a lot of traffic out of town and reduce the amount of traffic going through the villages as well,” she said.

“We want the best solution for the area. It is not just about the cost – it is the impact on people’s lives.”

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Cllr Cernik added: “There is a long way to go and a lot of work to do to make this project a reality. We have not secured the funding yet but you have to be in it to win it.

“The business study will allow input from all stakeholders in our community and will enable us to launch a well-informed, dynamic bid which, if successful, will be a step in delivering the 21st century Northwich vision.”