Cheshire East Council is the latest council to submit three bids to round two of the government’s Levelling Up Fund.
The Levelling Up Fund is designed to invest in infrastructure that improves everyday life across the UK and, in March, Government launched the second round of bidding.
Cheshire East Council submitted three bids – two relating to a pedestrian and cycle scheme around Crewe station, and one for major improvements to public space in Macclesfield town centre yesterday.
The first bid – submitted by the council in its role as the Local Transport Authority and backed by Edward Timpson MP – seeks funding to deliver the eastern section of the council’s Nantwich Road Bridge Enhancement Scheme.
The scheme, which was recently subject to a six-week public consultation, will create more space along the existing Nantwich Road Bridge to provide safer, more convenient, and more attractive pedestrian and cycle links.
It will encourage active travel to and from the station and make it easier for people to find their way between the station and town centre.
The eastern section of the Nantwich Road Bridge Enhancement Scheme is a key element in supporting the council’s wider HS2 and Crewe hub station programme.
A further bid – a constituency bid backed by Dr Kieran Mullan MP and Fiona Bruce MP – has also been made to deliver the western section of the scheme.
This section is strongly linked to two further projects being developed in Crewe, the first of which is the ‘Southern Gateway Pedestrian and Cycling Connectivity Scheme’, which proposes to create a new pedestrian walkway and cycleway between High Street and the Lifestyle Centre.
It is one of the projects being progressed following the council’s successful £14.1m bid to the government’s Future High Streets Fund.
The council is also developing proposals for the Mill Street Corridor, which would act as an active travel route connecting the Nantwich Road Bridge and Southern Gateway schemes.
The project is one of 10 in Crewe that has been earmarked to benefit from a £22.9m allocation of funding through the government’s Towns Fund.
Councillor Craig Browne, chair of Cheshire East Council’s highways and transport committee, said: “The Nantwich Road Bridge Enhancement Scheme supports the council’s long-term ambitions to improve pedestrian and cycle links across Crewe to encourage an increase in ‘active travel’.
“It will also further prepare the town for the arrival of HS2 to Crewe by 2033 – an important component of delivering the council’s future ambitions for Crewe and the surrounding area.
“HS2 remains a strategically important project for the council, and we continue to press government to deliver key interventions and investments that support the council’s shared vision for a Crewe ‘super’ hub station, to support the right level of connectivity and facilitate 5/7 trains per hour stopping at Crewe.”
The third LUF bid submitted by the council is for improvements to public space in Macclesfield town centre, taking in Chestergate, Market Place, Exchange Street and Mill Street.
The project – supported by MP David Rutley, Macclesfield Town Council, Grosvenor Centre owners Eskmuir and Make It Macclesfield – would transform the look of the area and focus on the pedestrian, rather than the vehicle.
It would see pavements widened to create more scope for existing and new cafes, bars and restaurants to have al fresco seating areas, encourage more people to cycle into the town centre, and include adding more greenery and improving street furniture.Cllr
Nick Mannion, chair of Cheshire East Council’s economy and growth committee, said: “The plans have the potential to make a real difference to a core area of the town centre and aim to build on the transformational works completed in Castle Street last year.
“The scheme incorporates the area at the back of the current Marks and Spencer store, to make the unit more desirable for new occupiers.”
In bidding to the Levelling Up Fund, local authorities are categorised in terms of ‘priority areas’.
Cllr Mannion added: “We are confident that we have put forward three compelling bids, which present the strongest options in meeting the full criteria of the Levelling Up Fund.
“However, we recognise that the government also prioritises authorities based on need, and that Cheshire East has unfortunately been classified as a ‘priority three’ authority – the lowest need classification for this Levelling Up funding.”
A decision on the bids is expected in the autumn.