Stockport Council failed in its latest attempt to get Government funding for the A6-M60 Bypass.
The Government’s Department for Transport has £3.5 billion that it wants to spend quite quickly on building major roads, excluding motorways. There’s a two-stage process. Transport for the North and other regional transport quangos compile short lists. Then the Department (DfT), chooses which of those road schemes get the money.
The regional short-listing was completed on July 31st 2019. The A6-M60 Bypass didn’t make the cut. The biggest stumbling block was likely to have been the Greater Manchester Combined Authority declining to pledge a required “local contribution” of £70 million towards the Bypass’s estimated total cost of £477 million. Other possible factors are 1. that the Bypass is hugely expensive and would take a large slice of the DfT’s pot of money; and 2. opposition to the Bypass in Stockport may have caused concern, because the DfT is looking for road schemes that will proceed smoothly and quickly.
In coming to their decisions, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Transport for the North may both have considered that the Bypass would have got in the way of other bids from the region which have a better chance of being chosen by the DfT.
The Council’s unsuccessful application pro forma to Transport for the North is copied further down the page. Here are some observations on what the Council submitted:
- We learn that Greater Manchester Combined Authority was considering pouring tens of millions into the scheme – money that ought to be spent on public transport. Pro forma point 11.
- The application was for funding for the road. This diverges from the Council’s official policy of seeking money only for the next stage of development, to gain information before taking a final decision. The Council may say that the Government has changed the rules so that it is no longer possible to just apply for money for the next stage. However, at the very least, councillors and the public should have been informed. The application doesn’t even mention the £500,000 cost of the next stage.
- In order to qualify for the currently available funding, road schemes must schedule construction to start in 2024. The Council says the A6-M60 scheme would do this, but it is obvious that this could not be achieved without forcing the scheme through with rushed preparations and decisions. Pro forma point 9.
- Crucial information is suppressed about the severe congestion already at both ends of the scheme: the M60 at Junction 25 and the A6 at High Lane. The application says the A6 would be relieved of much traffic – whereas we know that the opposite would happen on the A6 in High Lane. There is one reference to High Lane and Disley’s severe traffic problems, but this is attached to vague talk of a High Lane/Disley Bypass being built once the A6-M60 scheme has been completed. There is no route, feasibility study or funding for a High Lane/Disley Bypass which has the obvious disadvantage that it would tend to increase traffic into Stockport. Pro forma points 13 onwards.
- The role of the A6-M60 Bypass as a link to the Airport is emphasised. Should we be building a road to facilitate airport expansion when we are threatened by catastrophic climate change? Pro forma points 13, 14, 15, 16.
- It is claimed that traffic on major roads in Stockport has risen by 15% since the first SEMMMS report, published in 2001. This is wrong; the correct figure is 5%. If the motorways are excluded, traffic on local major roads has fallen, as shown by official traffic counts (preceding the opening of the A6-Airport road). The trend of reduced car use should be encouraged, not reversed by new road building which encourages more car dependency. Pro forma point 15. Raw traffic counts.
- The Bypass is presented as serving Spatial Framework sites for building houses on green belt, from the A34 (Heald Green) across to Godley Green (Tameside), and also for expanding the industrial estate at Woodley. The local communities do not want these sites built on. Pro forma point 14.
- “Environmental impacts” get just a couple of lines to assure us that they can be “mitigated”. This is derisory and demonstrates why nothing the Council and SEMMMS say about the Bypass and the environment can be taken seriously. The application pro forma asks how the scheme will enhance the natural environment: no answer is provided. Pro forma point 15.
- The application says the Bypass will relieve congestion in a number of places. However, we know that where new road schemes deflect traffic from existing roads, the space tends to be taken up by new traffic (an officially recognised phenomenon known as “induced traffic”). The application itself admits this when it claims that an unknown package of complementary measures “would prevent available road space from simply filling up with new cars”. Promised mitigation measures proved impossible to implement in High Lane and Disley for the recently opened A6-Airport road, with serious consequences. Pro forma points 20 and 16 W.12.
- The application puts the cost of the road at £477 million which it says is “very high value for money”. These calculations were made in 2017 and are incorrect because they rely heavily on an out-of-date costing for the Airport Road. Doing the sums correctly would produce an A6-M60 Bypass estimated cost of £602 million. Pro forma points 10 and 19, and News item October 24th 2018.
- When the Minister for Roads rejected Stockport Council’s application for A6-M60 funding last year, he said that the Council should explore alternative ways of meeting its objectives. This hasn’t happened; the Council’s recent SEMMMS Refresh updating of its transport policy was centred on the Bypass plan. The Council needs to urgently consider less costly and more effective ways of easing traffic pressure in Bredbury and other areas. Minister’s letter.
The Government has changed how “funding rounds” are organised. Previously councils were invited to submit applications at set times for two separate pots of money: one for business cases, including initial design, costing and traffic forecasts; the other for construction of the road. This time around these two pots are combined.
Stockport Council’s officials might well have preferred to continue to apply for Business Case money separately, since the funding needed for this is relatively modest and more likely to be granted than finance for the Bypass’s full cost. But in the end, there’s no way that Stockport Council can get away from the fact that the Bypass is a very expensive scheme.
(The illustration below is ours, not theirs!)
The completed application form
Transport for the North MRN shortlisting proforma – 14.02.19 v1
MRN funding proposals – to be submitted to TfN by 29th March 2019
1. Representative: Sue Stevenson, Head of Highways and Transportation, Stockport Council
2. Local Authority and/or Combined Authority: Stockport Council/ Greater Manchester Combined Authority
3. Scheme Name: A6 to M60 Relief Road
4. Relevant Strategic Development Corridor: Southern Pennines West and Wales
5. Scheme location:
a. Road name/number & district
A555 and A6 to M60 J25
b. Is it on DfT’s MRN or is it a new link road to the MRN?
The scheme would be a new link road connecting the Major Road Network to the Strategic Road Network linking the M60 to the A6 and A555, and providing a link to the A34 and A523.
6. Should the proposal be considered as an MRN or Large Local Major Scheme?
Large Local Major Scheme
7. Current stage of development?
Strategic Outline Business Case
8. Expected year of start of works?
9. Proposed timetable for development, planning and construction
Full Business Case by March 2020
Planning Application mid 2020
Property acquisition/ CPO/ Side Road Orders 2021-2022
Delivery partner procurement by mid 2023
Start on site Mid 2024
Completion late 2026
10. Estimated cost of Scheme (£)? And source of cost information.
(Note – This should be the total cost of the scheme from development to construction.)
As set out in the Strategic Outline Business Case, the outturns scheme cost estimate (incl. 44% optimism bias and an annual rate of inflation of 1.2%) is £477,253,000
11. Proposed level and source of local contribution (15% Minimum is required)
To be provided through the Greater Manchester Capital Programme, with developer contribution to be confirmed.
12. Has local contribution been identified and approved?
If no, what is the expected approvals procedure and timescale?
As set out in Q11, the Greater Manchester Combined Authority is currently considering the potential for a local contribution, with the timescales for approval likely to be after the local elections in May.
13. Brief description of scheme
The A6 to M60 Relief Road scheme is the final highway component of the original SEMMM (South East Manchester Multi Modal) Strategy which has delivered benefits to local communities across south-east Manchester through a range of new highway infrastructure, public transport and sustainable transport measures over the past 15 years.
The scheme will run in a broadly north-south alignment providing a new dual carriageway with adjacent segregated cycling and walking path, connecting with the eastern termination point of the A6MARR at the south to Junction 25 of the M60 at Bredbury in the north; a length of approximately 8.5km. It will also provide a single carriageway link road (of 1.1km length) to Stepping Hill, allowing improved access to Stepping Hill Hospital.
The proposed Scheme will be consistent with the A6 to Manchester Airport Relief Road scheme and comprises the following:
– A rural Dual 2 Lane All-Purpose (D2AP) carriageway for the mainline and a two-lane single (S2) carriageway for the Stepping Hill Link;
– A segregated cycle/pedestrian route adjacent to the new road and existing length of the A6MARR, A555, providing a new orbital link for the strategic cycle / pedestrian network;
– A package of complementary measures in accordance with the SEMMM Strategy that will maximise the scope of benefits by making the most efficient use of road space where there are forecast reductions in car traffic. These measures will prevent available road space from simply filling up with more cars and support public transport and active modes;
– A package of mitigation measures will contribute to overall value for money by limiting any negative impacts resulting from the Scheme, including environmental and construction engineering mitigation to minimise the effect of the road on local communities and surrounding habitats.
There will be a requirement to construct a number of structures for the Scheme with the main structures including:
– Bridge over the Midland railway line – approximately 52m span
– Bridge over the River Goyt – approximately 200m span
– Works to the M60 J25 to accommodate changes in traffic flow
– Tunnel from Vernon Road to Stockport Road West – approximately 620m long;
– Retaining wall at Crookilley Way – approximately 200m long.
The Scheme will allow road traffic to bypass the heavily congested routes to the M60 that presently pass through Hazel Grove, Stockport town centre, Offerton and Bredbury, also bypassing local district centres. It will provide much needed connectivity for key strategic routes into the North, the North West, and the wider Greater Manchester conurbation and specifically, through connecting with the A6MARR, to Manchester
Airport; including traffic from the A6, A523 and A34 – all of which are key routes for business, leisure travel and freight. It will also connect with the Poynton Relief Road and A34, providing improved access into East Cheshire towards Macclesfield and the Alderley Edge Science Triangle.
It will provide additional connectivity to the proposed Trans-Pennine Tunnel route which, if constructed, will run under the Peak District from the Sheffield region to
Greater Manchester and enhance the transport connectivity and resilience between these two city regions.
The scheme may also incorporate flood relief measures for Hazel Grove and Offerton communities and potentially additional bus priority to support an extension of the proposed bus rapid transit scheme to Manchester Airport being progressed by both Stockport Council and Transport for Greater Manchester.
14. How does the schemes support DfT objectives?
Objectives shown on the right
Support Economic Growth & Re-balancing
Support Housing Delivery
Support All Road Users
Support Strategic Road Network
Examination of the DfT’s traffic monitoring for major roads shows that there has been an approximately 15% increase in traffic on major roads in Stockport since the publication of the SEMMMS report. The growth in traffic levels in Stockport is significantly greater than the growth in adjacent local authority areas. Traffic benefits associated with completion of SEMMMS Relief Road Phases 1 & 2: A6MARR and Poynton Relief Road
schemes will have largely been eroded by 2024 compared to existing traffic levels.
There are particular congestion problems along the A6 corridor and in the urban centres along the proposed route, including Bredbury, Hazel Grove and Offerton, leading to delays to public transport and affecting accessibility. Congestion in the area, with average peak hour vehicle speeds of less than 10mph, contribute to journey times that are longer than all other ‘large’ urban areas across the UK, including those in London. The mix of local and strategic traffic on the A6 is one of the major causes of congestion on the corridor with long distance haulage movements from the Peak District causing particular congestion, local safety and environmental issues. The A6 would be a principal beneficiary of the proposed scheme, by providing an alternative route which bypasses residential and commercial areas of Hazel Grove (allowing the potential future reallocation of road space to improve local environmental conditions). Significant improvements to the A560 would also be achieved.
The route provides relief to the A34 corridor which suffers from severe congestion. Development on this corridor is likely to worsen congestion on it. Diversion of some trips will ease congestion, particularly at the A34 / A560 signal junction, and improve access
between the A34 and the M60.
Support Economic Growth and Rebalancing and Support Housing Delivery
Stockport is one of GM’s eight main town centres, providing a critical mass of facilities and services and acting as a hub of local public transport networks, including rail and bus. Stockport Town Centre is currently undergoing an ambitious £1bn regeneration
programme aimed at providing a better quality ‘offer’, broadening the range of uses by including housing, recreational and community facilities and so increasing footfall to the retail areas. Through the proposed Town Centre West Mayoral Development Corporation, this includes the delivery of 5000 new homes within the town centre, representing over 40% of Stockport’s required housing growth.
Transport has an important role to play in supporting this regeneration through provision of good quality public transport infrastructure and services, safe cycle and pedestrian routes, secure and convenient car parking, and access for servicing and deliveries. In addition, a more pleasant environment can be created for visitors by reducing the dominance of the car in key areas and improving pedestrian linkages across the centres. The A6 southern approach which passes through Stockport town centre exemplifies such a barrier.
The proposed scheme will improve access to Stockport Town Centre through reduced travel times, making it a more attractive location for investment. Reduced traffic
volumes and associated delays through Stockport Town Centre and local centres will also be addressed, which will reduce severance and improve the local built environment and safety. This will create the potential for road space to be reallocated and public realm
measures to be implemented, including the catalyst for later stages of an A6 masterplan and associated regeneration of the town centre to make the corridor a more pleasant place to work, attract business and live.
In addition to supporting economic and housing growth in Stockport Town Centre, the proposed scheme will deliver:
Improved access to Bredbury Park Industrial Estate in the Eastern Gateway growth area and part of the portfolio of industrial and warehousing sites and premises across Greater Manchester that is considered necessary to meet the full range of market requirements from business start-ups to major inward investments and relocations.
Improved access to the NHS and its health care services at Stepping Hill Hospital which looks after a population of approximately 350,000 people. The Trust provides acute hospital care for children and adults predominantly across Stockport and the High Peak area of Derbyshire.
Improved surface access to Manchester Airport and Airport City, including the opportunity for high standard orbital public transport connections from some of Stockport’s more deprived communities in areas of Brinnington, Bredbury, Offerton and Hazel Grove.
Relief to the A34 corridor to facilitate large scale housing development at Handforth and Cheadle Hulme and industrial development at Handforth Dean.
Improved access to housing development sites in Bredbury, Romiley and at Godley Green which would utilise the A560.
Support All Road Users
The A6 to M60 Relief Road scheme would remove unnecessary traffic from the A6, freeing up the road for public realm improvements as well as enabling more use by sustainable transport modes. The removal of a large volume of traffic from the A6 will reduce the current substantial severance caused to pedestrians and this in turn would improve road safety.
Support the Strategic Road Network.
Alongside the recently completed A6 Manchester Airport Relief Road, the proposed scheme will provide improved access to M60 and strategic road network from south east Manchester including improved route options for road freight traffic. This will contribute to improved highway network resilience across south east Manchester (including on the M60) and will ensure that the network is better able to respond to accidents/incidents. Works for the scheme will mitigate the currently unsatisfactory slip road arrangements at this junction.
Further analysis of how the scheme aligns with the DfT objectives is provided in the Strategic Outline Business Case.
15. How does the scheme align with STP objectives?
Transforming Economic Performance
Inclusivity, health and access opportunities
Increasing efficiency, reliability, integration and resilience
Promoting & enhancing the built, historic & natural environment
Transforming Economic Performance
As described above, the scheme directly supports the delivery of regeneration in Stockport Town Centre by relieving the current severance caused by the A6 corridor. The scheme also supports delivery of a major GMSF employment allocation at Bredbury.
Inclusivity, health and access opportunities
The scheme will provide improved surface access to employment opportunities at Bredbury Industrial Estate and Manchester Airport and Airport City, including the
opportunity for high standard orbital public transport connections from some of Stockport’s more deprived communities in areas of Brinnington, Bredbury, Offerton
and Hazel Grove. The scheme will also provide improved access to health services at Stepping Hill Hospital including completing a direct high speed route between Manchester Airport and the Hospital.
Removing traffic from the local road network also provides enhanced conditions to encourage walking and cycling, with subsequent local health benefits.
Increasing efficiency, reliability, integration and resilience
The scheme will provide improved options for road freight, and resulting reduced journey times will increase reliability and resilience on both the A6 corridor and the SRN.
Promoting and enhancing the built, historic and natural environment
Whilst the scheme will have environmental impacts, these will be mitigated through a programme of accompanying mitigation measures. Resulting reductions in traffic volumes along the A6 corridor will contribute to improved local environments and the potential to reallocate road space to enhance the built and historic environments through key centres including Hazel Grove and Stockport Town Centre A full appraisal of the scheme’s impacts is provided in the Strategic Outline Business Case.
16. Please explain how the scheme aligns with local strategies
As set out in the Strategic Outline Business Case, the proposed scheme is able to
demonstrate a very strong policy alignment with the GM Transport Strategy 2040. The Strategy provides a long term vision for transport in GM, which prioritises the delivery of a consistently reliable and resilient network which focuses on the efficient and effective movement of people and goods to, from and across Greater Manchester but also respects the needs to the places it passes through.
The Strategy’s overarching vision is to deliver a future in which GM’s regenerated town centres are easy to get to, particularly by sustainable modes, and pleasant to walk around and spend time in. Journeys across the area, between centres or to other major destinations will be made easier through better and faster orbital links, reduced congestion, a more reliable bus network, more effective interchange and better- connected cycle routes. Road collisions are anticipated to be reduced. The significant new development expected in GM will be accessible by sustainable modes of transport, so that the impact of the extra trips on the road network is reduced. The proposed scheme directly supports this vision in terms of the following priority interventions:
– W.9 Provide infrastructure to serve new development areas, identified through GMSF. As previously identified, this Scheme will support both the Airport Gateway as part of local highway infrastructure strategy and Eastern Gateway through improved access to Bredbury Park Industrial Estate.
– W.10 Establish long term programme for improvement of facilities at, and access to,
transport hubs. Manchester Airport is the largest transport hub within Greater Manchester and its importance will grow further with the construction of the proposed HS2 Station at the Airport. The A6 to M60 Relief Road, through its connection to the A6MARR scheme, would directly deliver a significant improvement in surface access to Manchester Airport and Airport City, including the opportunity for high standard orbital public transport connections.
– W.11 Improve maintenance and resilience of our key route network and local highways. The Scheme, if constructed, would become part of a future GM KRN. In doing so it would substantially improve the resilience of the KRN and local highways in south east Manchester, both as an alternative route and by reducing traffic volumes and congestion on the A6 and local routes.
– W.12 Improve the flow of traffic on key roads through measures to release bottlenecks and better manage demand at peak times. The Scheme would alleviate a number of bottlenecks along the existing A6 southern approach that would in turn enable a package of complementary measures to be introduced in accordance with the SEMMM Strategy that would maximise the scope of benefits by making the most efficient use of road space where there are forecast reductions in car traffic. These measures would prevent available road space from simply filling up with more cars.
– W.15 Provide much better pedestrian, cycle and public transport links across town centres, including severance by major roads. The Scheme includes a segregated cycle/pedestrian route adjacent to the new road and existing length of the A6MARR, A555, which would provide a new orbital link for the strategic cycle / pedestrian network. Through the removal of traffic from the existing A6 southern approach, the Scheme would not only significantly reduce the impact of severance through a marked
reduction in traffic flow but would enable pedestrian/ cycle facility improvements to be
made along and across the bypassed section of A6.
– W.17 Improved road safety at accident blackspots. There is a concentration of killed and seriously injured and pedestrian/ pedal cycle accidents on the A6 between the Hazel Grove and M60 motorway. The Scheme would provide safety benefits both as a result of a reduction in traffic on the A6 and a better allocation of road space for vulnerable users
In addition to supporting the vision and objectives of the GM Transport Strategy 2040, the scheme also directly supports the vision and objectives of the refreshed SEMMM Strategy which is currently under development.
17. What would the impact of the scheme not progressing during the period 2020-25?
Originally identified as integral to the successful delivery of the SEMMM Strategy mapped out in 2001, the traffic conditions that the Scheme was proposed to
address have become worse over time. Congestion and poor journey time reliability are a major problem on the highway network in south Greater Manchester, impacting upon the thousands of commuters, business travellers and freight operators that rely upon it to provide access to jobs and business activity.
As a key component of the original SEMMMS road strategy package, the full anticipated benefits of the SEMMM Strategy will not be realised if the scheme is not progressed. In particular, the delivery of economic growth and improved local environmental conditions and safety along the A6 corridor, in Stockport Town Centre, and at Bredbury will not be achieved. The resilience of the highway network in the South Manchester area will continue to be challenging.
18. Please provide information on support from stakeholders e.g. MP’s, Locals and HE?
Support for the SEMMMS road schemes was originally established during the 2004 consultation. Stockport Council has acted proactively to maintain stakeholder/ political interest and engagement over the time since the strategy was adopted. Letters of support from TfGM and GM LEP were submitted with the Large Local Majors bid to the Government in July 2016. Discussions with Highways England have also been ongoing, and they are supportive of the scheme in principle. Local MPS and councillors are supportive of the scheme.
19. Indicative Value for Money category.
If the scheme has an SOBC / OBC what is value of the monetised benefits and Benefit Cost Ratio?
The Strategic Outline Business Case identifies that the scheme represents very high value for money with a Benefit Cost Ratio of 4.07. The sum total of the monetised benefits (reflecting changes in travel time to highway users, vehicle operating costs, accidents, noise, local air quality, greenhouse gases, and indirect tax revenues) is £1.39bn
In addition to the monetised benefits, the scheme will deliver non-monetised benefits in terms of journey time reliability, physical activity, journey quality, access to services and severance.
20. Additional information
Please use this section to provide any additional relevant information
Completion of the A6-M60 will facilitate the construction of the final section of the SEMMM Road Strategy in allowing access to the western end of the proposed Disley / High Lane A6 Bypass. This route is envisaged to be a single carriageway environmental bypass which will bring relief to villages currently severely adversely effected by through traffic.
The recent SEMMMS Refresh process reinforces that the A6 to M60 Relief Road is still a priority and justified as a part of a multi-modal package of improvements for South East Manchester.
21. Please include a map providing the scheme’s geographic context
[Map supplied by SMBC but not uploadable to Stockport Bypass Facts]