Chapelford Urban Village
Warrington is a prosperous and developing city. The proximity of the M62, M6, and M56 afford it easy access to the North West and the rest of the country, with 6.2 million people, including residents of Manchester and Liverpool, living within 45 minutes of it.
The Chapelford development is to the north-west of the city on a former 200 acre RAF site. Planning permission for the development was granted in 2002. The first homes were sold in 2003 and the last ones completed in 2017.
On entering Chapelford Urban Village, the amount of land dedicated to car parking is immediately apparent. This is at its worst in the district centre, which takes the appearance of an out-of-town complex dominated by a single large supermarket. In other parts of Chapelford there are streets that almost look more like car parks than streets, while the extensive car parks in front of some small blocks of flats are so all-encompassing that they even stretch underneath the buildings themselves. However the main streets through Chapelford are quite attractively designed and have good traffic calming measures.
There is little consideration of walking and cycling in the planning and promotional documentation for the site, with the focus instead on Warrington’s advantageous placement within the road network. Despite this, a great deal of effort appears to have been put into cycle provision within the site itself, with an abundance of cycle lanes and blue signs alongside the traffic calming measures, although some of the cycle provision seems rather over-designed. There is also an attractive park in the middle of Chapelford.
The best feature in terms of public transport is the new station which is currently being built at Warrington West. However, the bus, walking and cycling links between Chapelford and the rest of Warrington do not meet the same standard. Therefore, while the relative proximity of the town centre should mean that many facilities are easily accessible by foot and bike, the urbanised environment acts as a significant deterrent to this in practice. The signed cycle route between the town centre and Chapelford requires navigating a major roundabout, followed by a choice of either cycling next to a dual carriageway or on a muddy path which involves passing a threatening area underneath a bridge. Travel patterns may change when the new station opens, but it will be too late to reduce the amount of land dedicated to car parking or to redesign the district centre. It seems that having an urban location and making efforts to encourage cycling on site are not enough to avoid creating a car-dominated environment.
Click here to download the Chapelford Urban Village profile.