Driving past Alprham these days you will be aware of some of the building that has taken place. Just opposite the junction with the turn off to Bunbury some new houses have sprung up. A little further along the A51 signs show that land has been sold with outline planning permission. Clearly the village has had a similar experience to Bunbury with a rush of planning applications over the last few years. Apparently about 40 houses are, or will be, built in the village. At Beeston a further 80 houses have now been given the go ahead. That is bound to have some impact on Bunbury.
The impact will come in a number of ways. Firstly, it will affect the school. Children from both these areas will come and seek places at the primary school. Of course the Beeston development is just in Chester and West Cheshire and children will be directed to the primary school in Tarporley. However, it is very likely that some parents will prefer to look to Aldersey Primary School instead for a variety of reasons. Traditionally primary school age children from Alpraham have tended to come to Bunbury. Clearly the numbers will increase. These additional children will also be joining the increased numbers generated from the 100 extra homes already scheduled to be erected or already built within Bunbury.
Secondly, all these additional houses come with cars attached! Usually these days 2 cars is the norm but possibly more given the difficulty for older children live and work away from home. More journeys to school, more trips to the shops more rabbit runs through the village between the A49 and A51. More people living in and around the village creates more indirect traffic. Delivery vans and lorries, trades people, etc., all needing to access the village and service our demands. This will not improve the quality of life in Bunbury.
Thirdly, we have also become aware that traffic brings more dangers to our health than the increased risks of accidents.. Air quality and the density of particulate matter in the atmosphere are urgent concerns. We tend to associate higher air pollution risks with urban areas but with increasing traffic in the village, we may see the emergence of local hotspots near the school at the start and end of the day and around the shops in the centre of the village. It shortens and degrades our lives. Noise also increases with more traffic. It also degrades our quality of life.
To manage these impacts will be a major concern over the next few years. I have suggested the introduction of a 20 mph zone around the village. This will go some way to reduce the impact of the additional traffic flow through Bunbury. It should deter the ‘rabbit runners’ looking for a short way to cross over between the A49 and A51. It will help with the noise pollution as well. As far as air quality is concerned, I am less certain of a beneficial outcome. At present the only solution is to discourage cars and vehicles and encourage walking and cycling. A 20 MPH zone will do that to some extent but the real solution is to move to electrical vehicles, and soon. Getting people out of cars and able to walk around in safety is another challenge. We cannot go on thinking we live in the rural idol of the 1920’s with horses and carts and very little vehicle traffic. Then roads without pavements worked fine, but not now. The volume of traffic let alone the increasing size of the cars and vehicles we choose to roam around in nowadays, all make walking (and cycling) more hazardous. Once a mini was a mini car, now it is just a badge on a standard sized car. So we do need more pavements as well as the 20 mph speed limit zone. Then we have some hope of holding onto the quality of life we enjoy in the village. We must shift the balance away from the vehicle in favour of the walkers and cyclists within the boundaries of the village or suffer the consequences.