The delayed final version of SEMMMS Refresh has so far failed to appear for approval by Stockport councillors. It’s presented as a 20-year transport strategy that updates the original South-East Manchester Multi-Modal Study of 2001, but once again road-building is its core.
The original 2001 SEMMMS produced the road-building plans that have hung over south Stockport’s green belt ever since. The Airport Road A555 is now complete and work on the Poynton Relief Road will start in a year or so. Original SEMMMS also put forward tram, train and bus improvements, which have almost entirely failed to materialise.
The Refresh’s main purpose is to reaffirm the third and final piece of the original SEMMMS’ road scheme – the extension of the A555 to Bredbury through Stockport’s Goyt Valley and Offerton and Torkington’s green spaces.
Roads and other proposals
Like original SEMMMS, the Refresh includes a range of other proposals, involving public transport, walking and cycling. In the first draft there (published last May) there are also some other road items, notably a Disley-High Lane Bypass to connect to the A555/A6-M60 extension; widening of the A555 between Woodford Roundabout and Handforth; and a big roundabout at Gatley crossroads on the A34.
The first draft of the Refresh said that the package should be delivered in its entirety. Original SEMMMS said almost exactly the same, yet it became entirely associated with road-building. The same may happen all over again, if the Refresh goes ahead as set out in its first draft.
We already know that Stockport Council prioritises road-building over any other mode of transport. In fact Stockport MBC only has responsibility for highways, cycling and footpaths. Public transport is the responsibility of Transport for Great Manchester and the train and bus operators.
There is no funding for any of the proposals in SEMMMS Refresh, except perhaps new cycling routes and the remodelling of Stockport bus station. Stockport MBC can apply to the Government for road funding. It’s up to other organisations to track down money for the other schemes.
The Council has said there were many responses to the consultation accompanying the first draft of SEMMMS Refresh. Those responses should be published and ought to influence the final draft. But will they?
SEMMMS Refresh should not proceed as set out in its first draft because:
- We would lose Stockport’s superb Goyt Valley and other green spaces.
- Building more new roads will inevitably increase traffic domination and car dependency within the area.
- As we have seen with the M60 and now the new Airport Road, new roads create congestion and bottlenecks at junctions and on connecting roads.
- The Government has three times refused money for further preparations for the A555/A6-M60 Bypass – pointing out last February that the cost, then estimated to be £477 million, was very high. Too true!
- More recently it has become clear that the estimate of £477 million (made in the official A555/A6-M60 business case) is wrongly calculated and too low. Can the Council apply for further funding for the road using an incorrect estimate and a flawed business case?
- The first draft of SEMMMS Refresh again sees SEMMMS bending the facts. It claims that “congestion is increasing”: Congestion remains bad in Stockport but official figures show traffic has slightly declined since 2001 when the first SEMMMS study was published.
- SEMMMS cannot be trusted with our green belt, our transport, our money and our future.
There are some good ideas in SEMMMS Refresh – for new railway stations, trams, cycle paths and faster buses. We are asking the Council to keep these but take the A555/A6-M60 Bypass out of the plan.
The proposals in the first draft of SEMMMS Refresh:
- Bus Rapid Transit services including some on new dedicated road (Woodford-Handforth; Stanley Green-Bruntwood Park); dedicated bus lane and some bus priority at junctions.
- New Stockport Bus Station; improvements at Stockport Railway Station; improving walking and cyckling links between the bus and train stations?
Railways and trams
- New rail stations at Stanley Green and Cheadle (including park and ride); High Lane, Chapel-en-le-Frith (to Hope Valley) and Adswood.
- SEMMMS Refresh supports “Northern Powerhouse Rail” – a new fast line between Leeds and Liverpool via Manchester which would connect with High Speed 2 (from London) at Manchester Airport. TfGM are looking at a rail upgrade alongside HS2 which might include electrification of the Buxton Line and reintroduction of rgular services through Reddish South.
- Station parking should be expanded at Heald Green, Bramhall, Cheadle Hulme, Handforth, Gatley, Disley, Buxton, Chinley, Chapel-en-le-Frith, New Mills New Town and Macclesfield.
- Possible tram-train routes: Stockport-Altricham; Stockport-Airport; East Didsbury-Hazel Grove; Manchester-Marple; Stockport-Marple.
Walking and cycling
Encourage more walking and cycling. Examples given of possible new routes: Wilmslow to Manchester Airport; Brinnington (and other areas) to Stockport Town Centre); Alderley Park and Waters to Wilmslow Station; Ladybridge to A555; Heatons Link connecting Fallowfield Loop and TransPennine Trail. Improvements to Middlewood Way; new on-road cycle track on B5358 Wilmslow Road; safer cycling on Bradshaw Hall Lane; improved walking and cycling on the A6; improved connections across the M60. Additional cycle storage facilities at railway stations.
- A555/A6 extension to M60 (A6-M60 Bypass); High Lane-Disley Relief Road connecting to A6-M60 Bypass after the Bypass is built
- Improvements to A560 junction at Traveller’s Call
- Widen the old A555 to three lanes each way between Woodford Roundabout and Handforth.
- Widen A34/A555 roundabout on south side
- Increase capacity of roundabouts: A34/Stanley Road; A34/Coppice Way; Stanley Road/Earl Road; A34/Alderley Edge Bypass (northern).
- Other junction improvements: Stanley Road/Gillbent Road; B5358 Wilmslow Road/Finney Lane/Etchells Road.
- Realigning Stanley Rd including replacing railway bridge
- Provide full height clearance under Ashton Road (Bredbury) railway bridge.
- Highway improvements at Stanley Green and Eden Park Rd (?) on the A34.
- Gatley crossroads “intervention” – major works looking towards 2040
- Expand the network of electric car charging points.
Our petition against including the A6-M60 Bypass in SEMMMS Refresh is at https://tinyurl.com/TreesNotConcrete