KNUTSFORD has a 'golden opportunity' to cut the number of cars on its roads following the pandemic.

That is the message from councillors who are eager to see the town's air quality improved and its roads become more friendly for cyclists and pedestrians.

Lockdown has led to far fewer cars on roads across the country – with Knutsford no exception.

The timing could not be more pertinent either, with Knutsford Town Council currently assessing the consultation responses it recently received for a masterplan that could lead to restrictions in notorious town centre hotspots.

"I think we have got a golden opportunity to test out systems that reduce traffic," said Cllr Tony Dean, Conservative Cheshire East councillor for Knutsford.

Knutsford Guardian:

"Either restrict parking or vehicle use down Princess Street or King Street, or both, and test out how it goes with the population.

"I am more than happy to believe air quality has improved dramatically. Certainly while out walking, it is much better with a great deal less traffic."

Bold changes proposed in the masterplan include restricting traffic along King Street and Princess Street, having fewer cars parked on those roads and encouraging the development of a new multi-storey car park in town.

The idea is to make the centre more friendly for pedestrians – particularly on streets infamous for their narrow pavements.

Cllr Quentin Abel, independent town councillor, CEC member for Knutsford and the local authority’s champion for tackling climate change, believes the town has 'too good an opportunity to miss'.

Knutsford Guardian:

“By far and away the majority I have spoken to like the idea of having family routes for social distancing and to help small businesses to thrive,” said Cllr Abel.

“I think they would be significantly disappointed if we were not to at least test the advantages of doing this while living in these current circumstances."

“It is a bit of a culture change for some people, but this difficult time has given many people a different outlook on life and what the important things are – people enjoying the outdoors, respecting each other’s space and talking to more people than we usually do.

“We have a real opportunity for change and I hope people will embrace it because we will all benefit from it.”

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Both councillors believe future plans for Knutsford town centre are likely to be influenced by residents' experience of lockdown – with many residents enjoying quieter roads and improved air quality.

The first round of consultation on the masterplan ended on March 13, 10 days before lockdown began, with the results yet to be revealed.

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