A NEW bridge in Winnington moved a step closer today (Wednesday, June 9) as Cheshire West and Chester's cabinet approved a funding application be made to Government.

The UK government has launched new investment programmes during the Spending Review in March 2021 to support communities including the UK Community Renewal Fund and the Levelling Up Fund.

The Levelling Up Fund (LUF) brings together the Department for Transport, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Treasury to invest £4.8 billion in high value infrastructure across the country.

Winnington bridge and the A533 corridor linking Northwich town centre is considered one of four emerging priorities for LUF bids by the cabinet.

Northwich Guardian:

Possible options being considered for a new bridge

The recommendation will allow the Council to nominate bids that build on local insight and knowledge, and project proposals that align with long-term strategic plans for local growth, support the inclusive economy, target people most in need and support community renewal.

The development and investment in local infrastructure enabled by the LUF brings multiple site-specific benefits across regeneration, town centres, transport, and economic growth.

At a recent meeting between council officers and several neighbouring town and parish councils the development of Winnington Bridge was discussed, with three main proposals on the table.

1) Build a new the moveable bridge (yellow) and convert the existing listed swing bridge to an active travel cycle/walkway.

2) As option 1 but including the build of a new pedestrian/cycle bridge next to the existing civil war bridge.

3) Build a road and two new wider bridges, one moveable, and use the old roadway for active travel.

While in support of the development, members at the meeting voiced concerns over traffic management into and out of Barton village; the lack of suitable crossing points; the lack of good pavements for pedestrians and the need to carefully consider improved traffic management if such a scheme were to go ahead.

Work is now progressing to a full business case which includes further ground investigation; ecology appraisal, environmental studies, structure development for option 3; refinement of the tie-in between new crossing and surrounding highway improvement; refinement of junction improvements and the wider development of active travel measures.

Northwich Guardian: Urgent repairs were carried out on the bridge last year

Urgent repairs were carried out on the bridge last year

Cllr Bob Cernik (CWAC cabinet member for children and families; CWAC and NTC member for Winnington and Castle) said" Its clear that a solution to the Winnington swing bridge bottleneck has been needed for several years now.

"Whichever option is preferred a new bridge would allow the development of a better environment for everyone including better walkways for pedestrians, better cycle paths and improved road infrastructure.

"It's essential for the future of Northwich’s businesses as well as creating better access to Winnington's many new houses.

"We need to make sure the concerns of the local villages are taken into consideration.

"There is no guarantee of funding via this route but it’s an exciting opportunity."

The levelling up scheme requires MPs in their individual constituencies to prioritise a particular project. Mike Amesbury has done this for the Winnington Bridge and 533 corridor scheme.

He said: "I have been very active with local councillors and residents to secure the vital investment for this project."

Northwich Town Councillor Lee Siddall, who represents Winnington and Castle, said he was passionate about seeing a new bridge being built.

He said: "I'm incredibly proud to be involved in helping shape the new Winnington bridge plans after spending 24 hours on the bridge at the beginning of 2020.

"It's incredibly positive that all parishes seem to be on the same page when it comes to wanting a new bridge, although they have some concerns that need to be considered during the planning stages, such as ensure there are enough

crossings in place as traffic will flow more constant than before and limiting the number HGVs by implementing signage that grant access to selected businesses should do the trick.

"The ideal solution is a two-way bridge that avoids the civil war bridge so the swing bridge and the civil war bridge can be refurbished to it's full glory and only used for bikes, pedestrians and active travel."