All change for Wakefield’s roads

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A £4m traffic plan which will mean all change to city centre roads has been given the green light.

Yesterday the North Wakefield Gateway scheme was approved by planners to cater for increased levels of traffic from city centre regeneration, including the £210m Trinity Walk Shopping Centre and the £140m Merchant Gate development at Westgate.

A report prepared for the meeting said there was a risk the council would have to repay £3.925m in funding from the Regional Fund Allocation for regional high schemes and Local Transport Plan funding, if planning permission was refused.

Original plans for the controverisal North Wakefield Gateway were scrapped in October last year following a campaign by residents who said the one-way scheme would change the face of the St John’s area.

A new plan was drawn up with their help and approved by Wakefield Council’s cabinet committee in September.

But members of the ‘one-way, no way’ group remained unconvinced, and further amendments were made to the plans following dozens of objections over proposed changes to Margaret Street and St John’s Square.

Parents with children at Mulberry House School and Wakefield Girls’ High Junior School, objected fearing it would put children’s lives at risk.

Mum-of-two Sonia Hume-Dawson said: “It is not our intention to hamper the regeneration of the city. But we believe the proposed changes to St John’s Square and Margaret Street are dangerous for the children of Mulberry House and WGHS Juniors.”

She said parents travelled from across the county, and needed to park to pick up their children.

But committee members voted to overrule the objections following the further amendments to the scheme, which aims to tackle illegal parking outside schools and congestion.

Changes included the provision of a speed bump on Margaret Street, which would double as a crossing, the creation of six coach parking bays on Wentworth Street to replace coach parking on Wentworth Terrace and an investigation into the feasibility of putting an additional puffin crossing on Wentworth Street near St John’s Square.

Laurence Perry, bursar of the Wakefield Grammar School Foundation, which includes the two schools said he still had concerns over the opening up of Margaret Street and St Johns.

Wakefield Council’s transport planning manager, Paul Stevenson, told the meeting there had been extensive public consultation on the scheme, adding: “Overall I feel the packages will improve safety.”