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King Street, Knutsford

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Residents and businesses in Knutsford are to be given a further opportunity to comment on and suggest ideas for enhancing the pedestrian and traffic environment of King Street, reputed to have some of the country's narrowest shopping streets.

Contrary to press reports, a scheme suggested by Cheshire East Council to introduce a new design for the street in Mrs. Gaskell's famous town, has not been scrapped and the consultation process will recommence in a different form as part of the town's neighbourhood plan.

The key findings from the public engagement, carried out throughout July, show that 77 per cent of residents and visitors supported the design concept, while 68 per cent of businesses did not.

The updated design concept for the historic market town included wider footways, raised pedestrian crossings and the use of high-quality materials to complement the local architecture and old features.

But key concerns were the loss of on-street parking and the disruption caused during the construction period.

Some traders expressed concerns that their businesses might not survive any reduced footfall and custom during the construction period, which could take more than six months.

Narrow pavements, parked vehicles and frequent deliveries have created congestion problems in the town and now the proposed improvement scheme is to be reviewed through the town's neighbourhood plan, which is about to go through a much wider consultation process.

A focus group with businesses found almost unanimous opposition to the design concept, while feedback from the town council was also mixed, with calls for the scheme to be considered as part of the emerging neighbourhood plan.

The month-long consultation during July saw a staffed exhibition trailer positioned in the town on five occasions plus a wide range of other publicity methods, including the distribution of 6,800 leaflets, one-to-one and group engagement sessions, social media and press coverage and a static exhibition in the town's public library.

More than 2,700 people took time out to view the mobile exhibition and 735 people took part in one-to-one discussions with Council staff, and the three Knutsford ward councillors.

Councillor Don Stockton, Cabinet member for regeneration and assets, said: "Firstly, I want to thank everyone who responded to this consultation exercise.

"The feedback has been very helpful but it does show the improvements proposed don't have universal support.

"It is important that improvements to the town benefit residents, visitors and businesses alike.

"The emerging neighbourhood plan is an ideal opportunity to review the scheme in light of the consultation findings, so the people of Knutsford can further shape their town's development.

"Knutsford is a fantastic town with a great history and vibrant visitor economy. Reviewing the scheme through the neighbourhood plan will help support the town and allow it to be considered in context."

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