Minister approves Stockport's £43m integrated MRN scheme

01/12/2023
Dominic Browne

Stockport's A34 Corridor Improvement Scheme is the latest major road network (MRN) project to get off the ground, with a full business case approved by roads minister Guy Opperman and work set to begin next February.

Bolton-based George Cox and Sons won the contract for the £43m project put forward by Transport for the North and procured by Stockport Council.

The integrated project involves multi-modal works with a focus on walking and cycling that will provide a boost to the area's overall active travel connections. It is due to be completed by spring 2027.

The Department for Transport (DfT) is supporting the work with a £33.6m contribution from the Government's National Roads Fund.

Mr Opperman told Highways he was 'delighted' to work with Transport for the North on this MRN submission and 'to get this scheme over the line'.

'What is special about this scheme is that it is an integrated project, with bus and highways elements to support housing but also a major focus on active travel and improving access to schools. That is what makes this scheme different.'

The A34 MRN scheme is broadly set out to include:

  • enhanced pedestrian and cycle facilities along the A34 corridor including a cycle track and controlled crossings with connections to the wider Greater Manchester cycle network
  • replacement of the existing sub-standard pedestrian subway close to The Kingsway School
  • highway works to support Stanley Green Industrial area
  • highway works to support Cheadle Royal Business Park, including new bus stops
  • highway works to support approved future housing development
  • highway works to mitigate the impacts of planned housing development at North Cheshire Garden Village in Handforth in the future
  • intelligent transportation system solution to support reducing congestion and improve journey times.

The total cost of the scheme has risen since the Government funding was confirmed last summer.

Stockport Council was originally set to put in an additional £0.56m and a further £6.3m would be provided by third-party developers.

Now, the council and third-party providers will put in just under £10m for the increased £43m total joint investment, while the DfT's contribution remains the same.

The package of interlinked projects has also been cut back from 13 individual schemes to 12.

'Scheme 11, (improvements at the A34/A555 roundabout) was discounted from the A34 MRN Scheme package, by Stockport Council, because the proposed cycle network in Cheshire East does not extend to the boundary with Stockport, therefore Scheme 11 as proposed would have no longer connected to any infrastructure within Cheshire East, so no benefits would be attributable,' a DfT spokesperson told Highways.

'This decision to remove Scheme 11 was therefore reviewed and agreed by the Council’s A34 Project Board. The cycle network within the A34 MRN Scheme package has been refined accordingly, and the interaction with Cheshire East will be considered, by the Council, outside of the A34 MRN package.'

Cllr Grace Baynham, cabinet member for parks, highways and transport services at Stockport, told Highways: 'With this scheme and a number of others we have in the pipeline we are developing a really comprehensive and fully connected active travel network.'

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