A sod-cutting ceremony has celebrated the start of construction on the North West Crewe Package – a major improvement scheme that will ease congestion and improve access to Leighton Hospital.
The ceremony took place at the construction site off Middlewich Road and saw Councillor Craig Browne, deputy leader of Cheshire East Council and chair of its highways and transport committee, joined by other dignitaries, guests and those directly involved in the project to officially mark the major milestone.
The North West Crewe Package (NWCP), which is expected to take around two years to complete, will include the construction of a new road linking Smithy Lane, Minshull New Road and Middlewich Road (A530), as well as the realignment of Smithy Lane, Flowers Lane and improvements to other road junctions linked to the scheme.
The package also includes the construction of seven new junctions and the extension of the Connect 2 walking and cycling route to Leighton Hospital and North West Crewe.
In addition, a section of Minshull New Road outside Leighton Academy will be closed to traffic and will create a safer environment for children arriving at and leaving the school
Cllr Browne said: “This new road network is a hugely important scheme for Crewe.
“Not only because it will significantly ease congestion in the Leighton area and create quicker routes to the hospital, but because of the part it will play in the town’s economic growth by bringing forward opportunities for housing developments and for local businesses to expand.
“In addition, around £5.7m of added social value is expected to be delivered as a result of the scheme, including through direct local employment and training.”
Cllr Browne added: “A total of 1.8 miles of new road will be built, together with new junctions and access routes to development sites, and all this unfortunately cannot be achieved without some level of disruption.
“I would like thank people for their patience and understanding while we work to deliver this scheme. The works are being coordinated to allow them to take place safely, while minimising the duration of any road or lane closures that are necessary.”
The scheme, which is supported by £10m of funding from the Housing Infrastructure Fund, will bring opportunities for local businesses to expand and help to unlock the delivery of more than 1,200 homes and a sustainable community with new local services, green infrastructure, allotments, walking and cycle links, outdoor sports and recreation facilities and a new school.
It is part of an extensive strategic site development for Leighton, as part of the council’s approved Local Plan Strategy.
Sophie White, director of infrastructure funding at Homes England, said: “We are committed to working with ambitious local authority partners seeking to meet their local housing needs through delivery of key infrastructure.
“Our multimillion-pound funding will resolve much needed improvements to the local road network around Crewe, whilst unlocking critical housing sites and allowing the council to deliver their vision for new homes.”
The main NWCP works are being carried out by contractor Balfour Beatty on behalf of Cheshire East Council.
Edward Lundon, area director at Balfour Beatty, said: “This is a significant milestone for both Balfour Beatty and Cheshire East Council and we are delighted that we can now make a start on site.
“We look forward to safely and successfully delivering this scheme over the next two years, which will leave behind a lasting positive legacy for many years to come.”
Mr Lundon added: “We look forward to continuing our consultation and engagement with the local community and stakeholders keeping them full informed as the project progresses.
“Of course, we are particularly aware of the need to work very closely with Leighton Hospital and the ambulance service so that emergency access to the hospital is maintained at all times.”
Mark Robinson, group chief executive at SCAPE – one of the UK’s leading public sector procurement authorities – said: “Connectivity is a key theme in supporting the economic recovery post-pandemic and easing the path back to normal working life for many.
“SCAPE is very pleased to have been able to accelerate this project delivered by our partners Balfour Beatty that will keep Cheshire East moving and ease travel times for many, while supporting the critical service of the hospital and serving some brand-new communities of much needed housing and amenities.”