Congestion ‘horrendous’ in Greater Manchester neighbourhood where traffic scheme was scrapped

Active Neighbourhood plans aimed at cutting traffic and rat-running were scrapped by the council after an outcry.
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As the end of the school day arrives for one primary in Oldham,  cars are already queueing nose to tail on the road outside. “It’s horrendous,” one resident says.

This is Holly Grove in Chadderton North, where Active Neighbourhood plans aimed at cutting traffic and rat-running were scrapped by the council after an outcry.

Leaders had proposed installing planters and bollards, as well as new bus gates to restrict vehicles which they said were using streets like Holly Grove as a cut-through.

The authority stated it had also been contacted by people with concerns about traffic and congestion in the Chadderton North and Westwood area which contains several schools, including Burnley Brown and Bare Trees Primary Schools. It said people had raised concerns of ‘inconsiderate driving and parking’ around the schools.

But last month the town hall rolled back on the scheme, after many of the 944 people who responded to its consultation reacted negatively to the proposals.

Council leader Amanda Chadderton said they had ‘listened’ to residents and wouldn’t be progressing with ‘any part of the plans’. But she added it would leave some people ‘disappointed’, including those who had contacted the council ‘concerned about increased traffic levels and road safety issues’.

‘It is chaos as it is’

Outside Bare Trees Primary School on a cold weekday afternoon, the congestion is obvious. Traffic queues from Eustace Street, down Holly Grove and spills into Burnley Street and Cypress Avenue.

Locals say the Active Neighbourhood scheme would have helped deal with the rush of traffic at pick-up and drop-off times.

“It’s always bad,” Andrew, who works in the area, says. “Sometimes we get the community police officers around but once in a blue moon.

“In this road particularly I think they should have prohibition of waiting, double yellow lines down. Even the buses have trouble getting through. It’s mainly school traffic, it’s chaos in the morning and afternoons.”

Speaking on Holly Grove after the rush of traffic has died down, Maggie agrees. She says she was ‘disappointed’ the traffic scheme was ditched, but recognised the strength of feeling against it.

“There was a consultation event and people were screaming, saying it was going to block off access,” she says. “It meant people would have to come right round, which probably made it inconvenient.

“But it is chaos as it is. There is absolutely no consideration, and it is used as a rat-run. I do think, is today the day I’m going to get hit?”

The scheme had proposed four access zones for motor vehicles to allow people to travel to households, from Broadway and Oldham Way, Featherstall Road, Featherstall Road North, and Middleton Road.

However under the plans people would not have been able to travel on residential streets to access another of the four zones, but would have had to use main roads to travel to the entry point.

According to the consultation data, the element of the project people were most vehemently opposed to were the bus gates, which would have been short sections of road blocked off to all traffic except buses, cycles and taxis, taxis, emergency and bin lorries.

“We need more space to park our cars not to block our streets or make them narrow and cause delays,” one respondent said.

Another criticised the plan as having the potential to increase pollution, rather than lessen it. “Most of these measures will creating additional congestion on already congested roads i.e. Broadway and Featherstall Road,” they said.

“This will affect the air quality also. For working parents you will be decreasing the quality of life significantly by dramatically increasing the commute to and from work. The plans seem incredibly short-sighted with little benefit to residents living in the affected areas.”

Another participant in the consultation wrote: “Road closures during school times and bus access only roads will push traffic onto roads such as Middleton Road and Broadway where traffic and congestion are already at a high.”

Round the corner on Eustace Street, Jane, a resident of more than 20 years says she mainly walks as she doesn’t drive, but still recognises there is a problem with traffic.

“It is a bit horrendous round here at school run time but we just learn to not go out at that time,” she says. “Especially round here at Bare Trees the traffic is so bad. And it’s normally people who live walking distance.

“In lockdown the kids were able to play out again. But you wouldn’t feel safe now. There has been a couple of accidents around here in the past few years.

“I can understand why they were thinking of doing it [the Active Neighbourhood]. It’s like being in Naples or somewhere like that.”

But she says her husband, a car owner and driver, was not in favour of the plans. “It would make it more difficult if you drive,” Jane adds.

The council has since reconfirmed that no elements of the scheme will be going ahead. However Coun Chadderton previously stated it is ‘committed’ to making neighbourhoods and roads safer for residents, pedestrians, cyclists and motorists.

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