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More than 70 Chester homes targeted for triple glazing due to new bus station

Cheshire West and Chester Council will pick up tab to mitigate noise in a £200,000 scheme

Residents Joe Kerr and Michael Willett, Waterside Court, George Street, are fed up with the noise and exhaust fumes caused by buses leaving the new interchange at Gorse Stacks.

A £200,000 budget has been set aside to install triple glazing at homes close to the new Chester Bus Interchange with 74 properties identified as potentially affected.

Residents living near the new Gorse Stacks facility gathered at a public meeting in the Quaker Meeting House, Frodsham Street, because they are fed up with noise from the construction work and now 100 buses an hour trundling past their homes together with the exhaust fumes.

In a statement issued after the meeting Cllr Brian Clarke, cabinet member for economic development and infrastructure at Cheshire West and Chester Council, said mitigation measures were enshrined when the interchange gained planning consent.

Residents living near the new Chester Bus Interchange gathered at a public meeting in the Quaker Meeting House, Frodsham Street, because they are fed up with noise and pollution.

He said “Conditions were set in the planning permission for the bus interchange to protect residents that could be affected from any increase in noise levels or air quality. The condition required that a sound and ventilation scheme be designed, submitted and agreed with the council prior to the construction.”

He added: “The noise insulation proposed includes the installation of secondary or triple glazing or acoustically treated air vents and the process of seeking any necessary planning permission. Notices have already been posted on some properties, advising listed building consent to replace windows and install ventilation on the properties.“

Listening to residents’ concerns at the meeting was Chester Labour MP Chris Matheson with ward member and Labour council leader Samantha Dixon who made clear her authority would pick up the bill for any noise insulation measures.

Chester MP Chris Matheson addresses a public meeting in the Quaker Meeting House, Frodsham Street, Chester, concerning the new Chester Bus Interchange.

She apologised for delays in the building programme which meant locals suffered with noise from the construction site over 18 months.

A video was played to illustrate the loudness of hammering, scraping and reversing bleeps from diggers and wagons, sometimes early in the morning. Just as annoying was anti-social behaviour coming from Trinity Hall student accommodation block with swearing, shouting and screaming audible throughout the night.

Janette Stowell, who lives in Oulton Place, told those gathered: “So in just this small area here we can say there’s between 150 and 200 people who reside in this area and they’ve all been affected by the works going on.

“We are all absolutely exhausted and our health has suffered from the exhaustion and stress and the fumes that we’re now having to inhale. It’s awful.

Janette Stowell, who lives in Oulton Place, addresses a public meeting in the Quaker Meeting House, Frodsham Street, Chester, concerning the new Chester Bus Interchange.

“It’s the noise level as well. What we’ve got happening now is the continual drone from the buses.”

A fellow resident told the meeting: “I cannot breathe properly.” He said he was also suffering from insomnia due to the noise and his child couldn’t sleep either.

And the meeting heard bus drivers often fail to turn off their engines when stationary in contravention of the interchange code of use even though Mr Matheson and Cllr Dixon have reported the issues to ensure bus companies enforce the rules. Two residents claimed they had been abused by drivers after asking them to switch off their engines.

National Express coaches use the bus station at 5am when drunken passengers sometimes disturb sleeping residents.

The new £13m Chester Bus Interchange is now open for business although work is continuing to finish the project.

And the sheer amount of traffic driving down George Street was raised in terms of noise and pollution but the meeting heard after August 28 some buses will go up the street instead following road layout changes in Upper Northgate Street.

Resident Richard Holmes suggested allowing cars and delivery wagons to access Frodsham Street directly from the Mecca bingo roundabout, without having go down George Street, which was supported by former city councillor Ann Farrell.

A council highways officer promised to take the idea back but the council stressed that until the traffic is flowing in the way the scheme was designed to work then it won’t be possible to give a meaningful assessment of either vehicle movements or the impact on air quality.

Ward member and council leader Cllr Samantha Dixon addresses a public meeting, chaired by resident Michael Willett, in the Quaker Meeting House, Frodsham Street, Chester, concerning the new Chester Bus Interchange.

Cllr Dixon addressed delays in construction which had led to the noisy building site disrupting people’s lives for longer than it should and also apologised for ‘poor communications’.

She said: “I apologise for the delays you have experienced, as your elected representative. The council could have done a lot better.”

Cllr Dixon continued: “The reality is the bus station is now up and operational. There are problems you have identified tonight that the officers are going to take away and I will make sure they take them away and respond back to you. What I would say is that the bus interchange we had before at the town hall was not fit for purpose.

“This new bus interchange offers a much more improved welcome to the city for people arriving by bus, by public transport. We need to get people to stop using cars to reduce issues around air pollution and the way you do that is you make public transport more attractive. The relationship between the bus interchange and railway station is closer and better.

The Shopper Hopper links the old and new bus stations to support traders in the market hall and Northgate Street area.

“The Shopper Hopper is getting people around the city and I believe it’s about 6,000 in the first month. These are all journeys that weren’t made in a car.”

Addressing concerns around student behaviour, she said: “Trinity Hall is a privately-run student accommodation unit. I have reported it to the police. It has gone to the problem solving group. The behaviour is not acceptable. I’ve taken it to the highest

level at the university and I do not expect behaviours that you saw this term to happen again in October.”

The new-look Frodsham Street featuring artwork on the bollards.

Several people attacked the council over road safety issues relating to shared space on the pavement outside Waterside View, which is used by cyclists and pedestrians including the elderly, and Frodsham Street where people also brought up concerns about public seating being so close to vehicle exhaust pipes.

Mr Matheson, who is working with the Valuation Office to get a council tax reduction for residents impacted by the bus interchange, jumped to the defence of his Labour colleague, saying she had been responsible for getting a 20mph speed limit introduced across the borough.

He said: “To suggest she doesn’t take these things into account is most unfair.”

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