What Crewe could look like if mini Holland scheme goes ahead

Parts of London have already implemented ‘mini Holland’ measures over the last few years

A cycle path on Palmers Green in Enfield, London (Image: Enfield Council)

A feasibility study is currently being carried out to see if a large portion of Crewe could benefit from being turned into a ‘mini Holland’.

The project, funded by the Government, would see the area south-west of the town centre transformed in a bid to make it more attractive and safer. Cheshire East Council said it could also provide a more welcome environment for cyclists, walkers and people using public transport.

The part of the town under consideration lies between Victoria Avenue in the north, and Gresty Lane, Shavington, in the south. It includes Woolstanwood, Wistaston Green, the area around Cheshire College South and West, and streets branching off Mill Street.

READ MORE: Concern as Crewe bus stop becomes hub for drunk men ‘sleeping and shouting’

It has been chosen as it ‘experiences high traffic volumes on main roads, has narrow residential streets and suffers from inappropriate traffic with associated risks of poor road safety’, according to the council.

If the authority manages to receive the full funding from the Government, it would see infrastructure changes like new pedestrian crossings, public spaces, improved cycle routes, traffic calming measures, redesigned streets, cycle hubs and bus gates.

Cllr Craig Browne, chair of Cheshire East Council’s highways and transport committee, said: “Mini-Holland schemes improve how streets are used and aim to make them as pedestrian and cycle-friendly as their Dutch equivalents.”

Cheshire East is one of 19 authorities that were granted funding to carry out the feasibility study. This came after the project was rolled out nationally, having been piloted in a number of London boroughs, including Enfield and Waltham Forest.

Both authorities supplied images to Cheshire Live showing how some areas now look as a result of the project. The pictures show people using new cycle paths, pedestrianised areas and cycle hubs.

The latter was first granted funding from Transport for London (TfL) back in 2013 and began to create what it calls ‘low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs). In six years it had created 29km or segregated cycle lanes and made changes to 62 pedestrian crossings.

The council stated people living in these areas walk and cycle for an extra 41 minutes each week and have an increased life expectancy of around seven-nine months. The authority also said there were around 7% fewer cars in LTNs.

As with Crewe, the schemes proved divisive in the London boroughs. The complaints faced by Waltham ForestCouncil included claims that the scheme benefited wealthier residents ‘to the detriment of those living in poorer households’.

But the authority pointed to a comment from Professor Rachel Aldred, of the University of Westminster, who said: “In actual fact, we found that the most deprived areas in London were nearly three times as likely to have a new LTN than the least deprived areas.

“We looked at the characteristics of people who live within the LTN and compared this to those who live near the adjacent boundary roads and generally speaking we found that there wasn’t any difference, certainly not with respect to deprivation.”

Meanwhile, Enfield Council, which has also invested mini Holland funding into new infrastructure including new cycle lanes, pedestrianised areas and crossings. The authority supplied a case study of a woman called Janet, from Ponders End.

She said: “I used to love driving cars and in fact, I worked for a car manufacturer and would test drive cars. Now I think it’s important to share the road correctly and that this be embedded into driving courses for new drivers.

“On the occasions that I do drive, I notice people who are cycling overtaking me whilst I sit in traffic. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d consider giving up my car for good.”

But concerns over the scheme being introduced in Crewe continue to be voiced. One person commenting on a previous Cheshire Live article described the proposal as ‘beyond a joke’.

They added: “Thousands of new houses that CEC (Cheshire East Councol) have foisted upon us, meaning that ever more people are having to share the ever dwindling amenities and rapidly reducing number of roads locally.

“They’ve already closed Pyms Lane, Sunnybank Road with Minshull New Road and Smithy Lane to follow. I thought free flowing traffic was the ideal if you’re looking to reduce pollution from vehicles queueing and stop/starting.

“So I’d love to know why CEC (Cheshire East Council) would rather spend more of our money on making life even more difficult for residents instead of addressing genuine issues like the distressing state of those (congested) roads we have left.”

Cheshire East Council is urging residents to give their views on the proposed scheme, which can be viewed online here. Following the feasibility studies carried out by the 19 councils selected, applications would be made to the Government, which will then create a shortlist of authorities that would qualify for full funding.

If Cheshire East is successful, it would undertake ‘extensive’ engagement and consultation with residents before any measures are installed.

  • 05:00, 5 FEB 2023