Major changes to roads in central Birkenhead look set to go ahead after public support.
Plans to change some of the main roads in central Birkenhead could move forward if councillors approve the implementation of the schemes at a Wirral Council environment and transport meeting on 24 July.
The changes include new cycle and walking routes on Europa Boulevard and Conway Street in the area near Conway Park railway station.
Other proposals include changes to Birkenhead’s high street Grange Road as well as the junction next to the McDonalds in the centre of the town.
On Grange Road West is a proposed trial low-traffic neighbourhood meaning traffic will only be able to go one way. It is currently a two-lane road but coloured surfaces and planters will outline where the new pedestrian areas will be.
Councillors are also recommended to greenlight £1.625m of government active travel funding to go towards the changes around Conway Park. Other funding going towards the schemes come from the government’s Future High Streets fund with a deadline of March 2024.
£8.9m in total has been allocated towards the changes around Conway Street and Europa Boulevard. These changes will reduce the size of the Europa Car Park by 50 car parking spaces, plant new trees and improve pavements alongside the new cycle routes.
Nearly £3m will go towards reviving Grange Road, the Charing Cross junction near the McDonalds, as well as reducing traffic on Grange Road West.
This funding can only be used by councils to improve streets, public areas, and install new active travel routes. It cannot be used to fund other services or for maintenance of existing cycle lanes.
A public consultation carried out found between 62% and 71.6% supported the changes around Conway Park station while between 73.9% and 81.2% of people supported the changes on Grange Road and Grange Road West. 88 people responded on the Conway Street plans while 154 responded to the Grange Road proposals.
At Charing Cross, the council said the scheme aims to improve road safety by replacing existing crossings with wider ones as well as replace the current pavements.
However, despite the public support, people still had some concerns and objections about the proposal. The loss of 50 car parking spaces at Europa Car Park had the lowest support out of any proposal though a significant majority, 62%, still supported the changes.
Objections included concerns about the loss of road space for cars and vehicles and “that drivers are being punished as a result of these proposals and that there is no consideration for people who rely on a car for transportation such as the elderly and disabled.”
Wirral Council in response said pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists, and horse riders are road users most at risk of being injured in a collistion and it “therefore has a duty to manage its highway in a way that ensures and facilitates safe movement for all traffic.”
The council said any increase in the number of people using the cycle lanes will reduce the number of people travelling in by other methods and also help reduce congestion, emissions, and parking issues.
It added the new cycle lanes would also make things safer by providing a separated route for cyclists away from footpaths reducing issues of cyclists going through walking areas. It also said disabled parking will not be reduced at Europa and alternative parking for others can be found elsewhere.
Main image: Grange Road West. Credit: Wirral Council