Is new road a price worth paying?

The other week this column talked about the problems of traffic through Astbury, saying something needed to be done before anyone was killed.

We suggested some fairly radical ideas, mainly to slow down cars and perhaps deter them from travelling through the village, but now an even more radical plan has been suggested — dramatically expand the village by building more houses and using the money from developers to build a small bypass.

On one hand, this does seem to be a good solution — given our rather limited approach to solving transport problems.
The proposed road would run from Astbury Garden Centre, then go round the back of the church, Glebe Farm and the former council estate, and emerge at the junction of Peel Lane and Dodd’s Lane. Presumably at some point, another road would connect this and the proposed Congleton Link Road.

The road would cost around £2.5m and be paid for by allowing developers to build around 100 new homes in Astbury. Some would be low cost but the majority would, we’d guess, be “executive” homes. Some would be built alongside the road but we’d also guess some would be built closer to Congleton.

A bypass at least would solve the problems of Astbury village. Peel Lane and the railway/canal bridges would not benefit, because all traffic would still use Peel Lane, but the A34 would be less dangerous and the historic village centre would be healthier.

On the other hand: the current way of thinking is just to solve all traffic problems by building new roads. Despite the fact that some people have made a credible case for improving the A34 through Congleton rather than building the link road, the latter was always going to be the preferred option, probably because it is simply less mentally taxing for politicians to build a new road than consider the alternatives.

We often wonder why UKIP gets so much publicity and the Greens so little but really, we know the answer: UKIP lives in the current mindset of the political world, which is confrontational and wants easy alternatives: in Europe or out, immigration good or bad.

The Greens, on the other hand, challenge how politicians think. For example, to solve a problem like Astbury’s a greener (or Greener) way of thinking would presumably be to see how cars could be reduced, by deterring traffic, encourage walking and cycling or improve public transport — and not just to think “new road” as the only solution.

While we all agree that something needs to be done, the village is paying a heavy price — 100 new houses — to solve a single problem, traffic. It’s true that some green ideas are unworkable in practical terms but you’d think there’d be a middle ground.

For anyone in Asbury: this is far from a done deal and there will be consultations, and, as we said: everyone agrees something needs to be done.

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