How have the £4 million traffic measures affected Poynton?
- Credit: Archant
Towns across the country are following the lead of Poynton whose residents have proved it’s better to share, writes Paul Mackenzie
There are many reasons why the people of Reading might cast jealous glances towards Cheshire, or indeed anywhere that isn’t Reading. The most recent covetous looks were in the direction of Poynton and came from the residents of Caversham, which stands to the north of Reading, just across the River Thames.
Caversham is, a man from the residents’ association proudly told a recent meeting, bigger than Wallingford, Marlow and Henley put together, but despite this impressive claim to fame, it does have its problems. Chief among them, it seems, is the traffic and that’s why the residents’ association are hoping to follow Poynton’s lead.
The centre of Poynton used to be a four-way traffic jam, with red lights holding up motorists in all directions while pedestrians who dared to brave the streets choked on noxious fumes. Now, it is a delight for drivers, walkers and cyclists, offering them a smooth, easy and safe route through the town and encouraging them all to spend time and money in the charming shops.
That’s one view, anyway. There’s still a few who suggest it wasn’t that bad before and the £4m that has been spent on adding two roundabouts that aren’t really roundabouts and taking away the traffic lights and road markings has created a dangerous free for all which is an accident waiting to happen.
Either way, the people of Caversham are keen to try such “psychological traffic calming” measures which they hope will ‘enhance Caversham as a high quality place for shopping, working and leisure and to promote an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable village centre for the 21st century’.
Other towns have already adopted and adapted the scheme but as exciting as it sounds, the council in Reading don’t seem convinced by the residents’ association, so don’t start planning your holidays in Caversham just yet. Instead, maybe opt for a day out in Poynton so you can make your own mind up about the ‘shared space’ idea that has replaced the old crossroads.
The scheme was completed three years ago and involved the removal of the traffic lights, the narrowing of some roads and the creation of two connected roundalls. The idea was to keep traffic moving, but more slowly than it had been, and to give pedestrians equal rights of way.
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Sandra Horsman is firmly of the opinion that the scheme has been a success. She is currently Poynton’s deputy mayor, and depending on the result of this month’s town council election, could be mayor for a second time, replacing her daughter Rebecca.
Sandra said: ‘The roads are delightful now. It was so difficult before to cross the roads and it has made a real difference – the drivers here are much more courteous now.
‘The problem we still have though is the wagons, they’re so big. The relief road being built now might help but we really need a bypass to take a lot of that traffic.’
The proposed bypass would be built to the west of Poynton and would link the A5149 Chester Road to the new relief road now under construction. That dual-carriageway, which will connect the A6 at Hazel Grove to Manchester Airport, is expected to open in autumn 2017.
But whatever road you take when you go to Poynton (and we strongly recommend you do) you’ll find there’s much more to admire than the traffic calming measures and new roads.
There’s a delightful selection of small independent shops where you’ll probably find what you’re after but you’ll definitely find a warm welcome and a cheery chat – and in case you don’t find what you’re looking for, there’s a couple of supermarkets as well.
There’s a wonderful range of walks to enjoy around Poynton too. You could go for a stroll beside the Macclesfield Canal or follow the route of the old Macclesfield-Marple railway which closed 45 years ago and is now a 10 mile path for walkers and cyclists. But if you don’t want to stray that far, head for Poynton Pool which was created in the 18th century as an ornamental lake in the grounds of a large, but now demolished, hall. And if that whets your appetite for imposing homes, Lyme Hall is just down the road, its grounds just a short walk from the centre of Poynton.
If you’d rather not walk and motoring’s more your thing, the Anson Engine Museum is the place for you. Built on the site of an old coal pit, one of the 74 that once made Poynton the thriving centre of Cheshire’s coalfield, it’s a fascinating day out, even if you didn’t think you were all that interested in oily old engines.
Back in the village, there is a thriving community and a packed programme of events and activities run by the many clubs and societies – everything from singing to pottery and folk dance to remote controlled helicopters is catered for, with many groups meeting at the community centre which is based in the old village school.
On Saturday July 12, the village will come together to celebrate the fourth Poynton Summerfest, with a day of family fun, live music and ferret racing. Event chairman Pat Clay said: ‘It will be bigger and better than ever this year. We’ll have falconry, dog competitions, Morris dancers, the brass band and two other live bands, local caterers providing food and, for the first time, we’ll have a bar.
‘The event started as a rangers’ event to introduce people to the Middlewood Way but it has grown since it became the Summerfest. We had to cancel the first year because of the rain, but the sun has shone on us ever since, so we’re praying for good weather again this time.’