HIGHWAY bosses say they have made changes to plans for the A556 as a result of consulting with local people.

The comment from the Highways Agency follows criticism of the organisation by the Cheshire East Local Access Forum over its response to concerns raised by the forum over the road plans.

The £130 million A556 improvement project would see the creation of a new dual carriageway linking the M6 at Knutsford and the M56 at Bowdon.

The forum wrote to the agency to complain about its ‘dismissive attitude’ to what the group regarded as reasonable points it had raised about the safety of walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

The forum seeks to encourage and enable public access to the countryside for recreation and enjoyment.

An agency spokesman told the Guardian: “We have been working with local residents, businesses and community groups to develop plans for the A556, and made several changes to the scheme as a result of the consultation carried out in 2012.

“These include additional improvements to the facilities planned for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders.

“Our proposals are currently with the Planning Inspectorate, and we expect a recommendation on whether to grant development consent to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Transport in the next few weeks. A final decision is due by the autumn.”

The spokesman said the new bypass would take traffic away from the centres of Bucklow Hill and Mere and remove the current conflict between long distance and local traffic.

“We will also prevent direct access from the M6 onto the part of the road being bypassed so that the local community can benefit from Chester Road being much quieter,” he said.

The bypassed section of the A556 would be reduced from two lanes to one in each direction, he added, and a new track would be created alongside it, specifically for pedestrians, horse riders and disabled people.

“We will also build a subway under the new road at Over Tabley and bridges at Chapel Lane and Millington Lane so that people can safely get across the new bypass,” he said.