River Goyt with autumn trees

Prepare for an autumn showdown

Stockport Council’s request for funding from the Government for the A6-M60 Bypass has been turned down, but the town hall’s road-building obsessives won’t back down. The next big date in their campaign to build a road through the beautiful Lower Goyt Valley (pictured) comes in the Autumn.

The Council’s transport officers published a redrafted “SEMMMS Refresh” strategy document in May this year. A consultation on the strategy closed on July 16th. A final draft will now appear sometime in the autumn for a decision by councillors. If the Council adopts the strategy, including support for the Bypass, it will become part of Greater Manchester’s transport plans.

In May we discovered that the Council had hidden away a letter that it received from the Government’s Department for Transport in February rejecting its request for an immediate £500,000 for further Bypass preparations.

The DfT’s letter expressed unhappiness about the overall expense of the Bypass (half a billion) and the way Stockport Council officers went about asking for funding for it last January (- read the DfT’s letter and our commentary). But the letter provided a grain of hope for the Council’s leaders and officers by suggesting that they should try to get Andy Burnham to make the Bypass a priority for Government funding for Greater Manchester. SEMMMS Refresh is the Council’s way of doing that.

Goyt Valley SOS! will be lobbying councillors to persuade them to reject the road-building proposals in SEMMMS Refresh. As well as the A6-M60 Bypass, SEMMMS Refresh proposes a High Lane/Disley Bypass and, in the future, widening some parts of the A6-Airport Road, even though the road is not yet finished! SEMMMS Refresh also includes widening of the A555/A34 roundabout which would put vehicles from the Airport Road on to the already illegally polluted A34.

In the past a big majority of councillors have favoured continuing preparations for building the Bypass, but how can they sensibly maintain this view when the Government has scorned the Council’s funding application? Continuing to put the Bypass at the centre of SEMMMS Refresh makes the Council’s strategy a lop-sided, unrealistic promotion of outdated 1970s road-building-addicted transport.

Goyt Valley SOS! at the Travellers Call: The back room of the Travellers’ Call was full to more than bursting for the Goyt Valley SOS! meeting on Tuesday evening 19th June (picture below). The meeting’s main decision was to get many more people to reply to the Council’s SEMMMS Refresh consultation.

Travellers Call meeting smaller

Council lobbied June 28th: We told Stockport Council.s June meeting that the A6-M60 Bypass shouldn’t be built – and can’t be built, following the government’s refusal of funding. Some councillors came out of the Town Hall before the meeting to talk to us and even hold our banner (see top picture) – but the Council organisation clings to its Bypass obsession.

In answer to our questions, Council leader Alex Ganotis said the Council will reapply for money for the Bypass and, in his view, might be successful. He said the Bypass was Council policy and refused our request for the Bypass to be removed from the new SEMMMS transport strategy. Amazingly, he said the Council had not published the Government’s letter (refusing funding) in February because they did not understand its implications.

The SEMMMS Refresh strategy document is here.

Read new articles on air pollution in Stockport and the much delayed Airport Road. View Councillor Sheila Bailey speaking passionately against the Bypass at the Stockport Cabinet meeting on 14th November. Visit our facebook pages: www.facebook.com/GoytValleySOS and Goyt and Poise Valleys SOS. See Bypass plans (from 2006 – the latest). To get more involved, contact us . Read the latest developments on our news page.

Bypass and Stockport major roads

Bypass: dotted line

Stockport Council wants £500,000 from the Government (or anywhere!) for the next stage of preparations for the Bypass – a small sum compared to the eventual cost of nearly £500 million.

The Government’s initial withering response was that “budgets are not unlimited”.  It pointed out that a similar bid for next-stage funding had been turned down in 2016 to avoid raising expectations that the rest of the half billion would be forthcoming.

The full Council and the Cabinet both voted at the end of last year to seek funding for the next stage despite a magnificent petition of 7,061 signatures opposing the Bypass. Opposition on the Council has been significant including three councillors out of eight in the subsequent Council Cabinet meeting voting against further development.

The Council’s bid for further funding relies on a Business Case published last autumn. But the Business Case shows that, contrary to popular myth, the Bypass would produce vanishingly small time savings on local roads in exchange for the destruction of green belt.

The traffic forecasts included in the Business Case ignored the well-established phenomenon of “induced traffic”.  This term covers the many extra journeys that are generated by any new road. If induced traffic had been calculated, the forecasts for the Bypass would have been even more unimpressive than those published. The Business Case also suspiciously avoided publishing any forecasts of traffic and congestion on the Bypass itself.

Map of the Bypass route.

The route.

The Bypass would be an extension of the A6-to-Manchester Airport  “relief road”, which is already under construction (the solid red route in the top map; the Bypass is the broken red line). It’s the latest in a series of new roads claimed to sort out the terrible congestion south of Manchester. The result of the £500 million road might not be what people imagine….

More traffic problems The combined bypass and relief road will draw in drivers from the M56, A34, M60 and A6. The volume of traffic is likely to create rush-hour blockages – causing local drivers to return to using other routes. Short-term reductions in traffic are expected on some local roads such as the A6 (Hazel Grove northwards though not around Bramhall Moor Lane/Sainsbury’s) and A627 (though not around the Offerton Road Bypass junction) but in the longer term the bypass could end up a horrendously costly and damaging failure (read more). The jams caused by the M60 in Bredbury demonstrate the unintended consequences that new roads can create. We have 15 ways that the bypass will be bad for drivers.

Ruined countryside Peaceful fields south of Bredbury will be torn up. A 200-metre long bridge, or a much longer high-level bridge, will cross the River Goyt, threatening the wonderful Lower Goyt Valley’s beauty and wildlife.  Ancient Poise Brook Valley wood will be severely damaged. The green buffer between Offerton and Bosden Farm Estates will be overwhelmed. Torkington’s green Sites of Biological Importance and Priority Deciduous Woodland will suffer grievously.

Fatal pollution Fumes from heavy and congested traffic contribute to the deaths of up to 50,000 people a year in the UK (including both NO2 and diesel particles). See our report. More traffic inevitably equals more pollution overall, despite claims that a new road will make things better.

Damaged lives The dual-carriageway route runs right up against some homes in Bredbury, Foggbrook and Torkington. When it curves through Offerton and Bosden Farm Estates, the nearest homes will be only a stone’s throw away. Residents will suffer intrusive noise. Peaceful green views and fresh unpolluted air will be lost.  Explore the route to see the potential damage.

Lost heritage At Foggbrook the bypass flattens old mill cottages and shaves Halliday Hill Farm – the ancient home of the Dodge family. Just out of Bredbury, close to Tudor Goyt Hall the bypass ploughs through a possible pre-Roman site not yet investigated by archaeologists.

Architect James Dyson has modelled the northern part of the A6-M60 route to show that the land bulldozed would be greater than the official plan shows. The illustration below  is his view of the junction next to Dial Park School. The yellow areas show cuttings and earthworks according to the plan; the dark green areas are further areas of  land that will need to be taken. See all of James’ model.reprospects foggbrook junction edit

Read more about what would be lost to the Bypass, and the damage that it would inflict:

The latest plans are from 2006 –  but only published last year: We have added notes to copies of the plans.  The source is the 2006 plans    pages 1-9 of Appendix 1 of the Strategic Business Case (which can be magnified for detail).

Main sources used on this website:

  • Full environmental report: SEMMMS Major Road Schemes Stage 2 Environmental Assessment (available from Stockport MBC)
  • The route, including both M60 to A6 and A6 to M56: South East Manchester Multi Modal Strategy, Annex E, Appraisal of SEMMMS New Relief Road July 2004 (available from Stockport MBC)
  • A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road Transport Assessment Main Text October 2013 http://a6marr.stockport.gov.uk/746597/760095/760276
  • Stockport MBC’s strategy: “SEMMMS new relief road scheme – results and conclusions of initial assessment” October 31, 2003 (can be found by search engines)
  • Department for Transport’s Note DFTQ9 – Forecast Usage of the Proposed SEMMMS Relief Road (Freedom of Information request) 2004
  • SMBC’s Stage 1 Feasibility Study A6-M60 Relief Road
  • SMBC’s Strategic Outline Busines Case for the A6-M60 Relief Road.

Contact our website group to tell us what you think, or to ask to be kept informed or to become more involved.

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