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Chester residents raise traffic fears over 1,400 homes plan

Westminster Park Residents' Association says housing scheme must also cater for older people
Jennifer Crew and Brian Westcott from Westminster Park Residents' Association want people to comment on the Wrexham Road housing plan.

Residents are unhappy about a vision document that will guide councillors in assessing future applications relating to plans for 1,400 homes alongside Wrexham Road in Chester.

Westminster Park Residents’ Association (WPRA), which represents the next door neighbourhood, claims the development brief fails to address ‘critical issues’.

This afternoon (Tuesday, April 4) members of CWaC’s planning committee will be asked to back the brief that will be used in deciding the planning applications that follow.

But WPRA fears plans for a health centre and primary school to serve the new estate could make existing traffic problems on Wrexham Road ‘significantly worse’.

Local NHS managers want a new health hub on the development that will incorporate existing Lache and Handbridge surgeries.

But residents’ association chairman Brian Westcott said: “There are currently no buses linking Lache and Handbridge with the Wrexham Road. So how are people going to get to the new surgery? They will either have to drive – if they have access to a car, get a taxi – more traffic, or walk or cycle. The distance from these areas to the surgery will be nearly two miles – is this realistic?

The land off Wrexham Road, Chester, where there are plans to build at least 1,300 homes.

“If we make it difficult for the residents of Lache and Handbridge to get to a surgery, they are going to be less inclined to go which will be detrimental to their health. Local services should meet the needs of local people.”

The association is also worried plans for a new primary school could result in increased traffic and disruption to children’s education while they are placed in existing schools on a temporary basis.

“We are keen to see a new school developed at an early stage to avoid even greater congestion on our roads,” said Mr Westcott.

“Until the school is built, children will have to be accommodated in other local schools, which will cause them to be overcrowded. Some children will be able to walk or cycle to school, but it is inevitable that a lot of parents will opt to drive their children to school – yet more journeys on this busy route.”

Another area of concern is lack of housing catering for the needs of older people.

With the proportion of over 65s in Chester forecast to rise by 60% by 2032 and the Government’s stated aim of encouraging older people to down size, there is said to be ‘little commitment’ to building bungalows or supported living accommodation within the scheme.

Mr Westcott commented: “Many of the residents of Westminster Park are of a mature age and bungalows on our estate are quickly snapped up at premium prices. The need has been stressed at the public meetings we have held. It seems short-sighted of the developers not to identify this marketing opportunity.

“There is a ready-made market on the doorstep if they provided the right type of housing,” he added. “But at present they seem to think we should all be happy to install stair lifts. What most older people would prefer would be single storey accommodation such as bungalows.”

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