A consultation on the future of the Fallowfield Loop and Yellow Brick Road Loop (YBR) walking and cycling route received an incredible number of responses, with more than 5,200 people having their say
The engagement exercise was held during summer 2020 to let Manchester people express what they like and provide suggestions about what improvements they want to see for the Fallowfield Loop and YBR routes in the future.
The Fallowfield Loop is a 14km off-road path used by pedestrians, people on bikes and horse riders, running from Chorlton in the west of the city to Gorton and Fairfield in the east “Yellow Brick Road” is a local name for the route along the former Stockport Branch Canal.
The consultation was carried out by Manchester City Council to inform a £4.9m project to enhance the Fallowfield Loop and YBR, creating a more inviting route to travel along, with improved access points. It was supported by a project team including Transport for Greater Manchester, Sustrans and the Friends of Fallowfield Loop group, who helped to promote the consultation online and placed posters along the route.
Priorities highlighted by those responding to the consultation included providing a more open route, with upgraded access points and better signage, to make entrances more prominent. Comments were also made about helping to preserve existing habitat and providing information boards to document the area's abundant wildlife. Great crested newts, endangered bat species and "Red Listed" birds of conservation concern have all been discovered living in the area, through an ecology survey undertaken last year.
More than 300 people commented in the consultation that street lighting should be used in a sensitive way, which does not detract from the “rural” feel of the urban route where possible and does not have a negative impact on the area’s biodiversity. This information, alongside the ecology survey, will guide the use of lighting along the route.
With the consultation complete, the council is reviewing the scheme to ensure that the respondents' suggestions and ideas are reflected wherever possible and will continue to carry out engagement with residents. Advance work started in December 2020 and more works will be on site from late spring, on Tannery Way, Tan Yard Brow and the YBR (from the bridge in Debdale Park to Alston Street). In July 2020, a new 25 metre-long bowstring arch bridge over Hyde Road was formally opened, replacing a former railway bridge for people walking or cycling along the Fallowfield Loop route. The work being carried out on Tannery Way, Tan Yard Brow and the YBR will link the Fallowfield Loop line and YBR into Hyde Road.
Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Planning and Transport, Councillor Angeliki Stogia, said: “The response to our consultation was overwhelming, with more than 5,000 people getting in touch to provide their opinions on how the Fallowfield Loop and Yellow Brick Road can be improved for the long-term future. It has taken the team some time to work its way through the huge number of responses and this strength of feeling shows how important it is to invest in the long-term future of the route.
“Respondents said that using the Fallowfield Loop and Yellow Brick Road gives them a chance to get out, exercise, and support their mental wellbeing, which has been an oasis in difficult times. It's also an important link for people travelling between neighbourhoods, or to local schools and colleges. However, issues such as safety, anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping do need to be addressed through this major project.
“We know that significant and sensitive planning is required, to ensure that steps are taken to conserve the area’s special look, feel and wildlife, while creating a more welcoming, safer environment for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy on foot or by bike all year round - whether that's to commute, or for leisure.”
The project is part of the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Challenge Fund programme, which has been established to support the delivery of new walking and cycling infrastructure across the region.
Chris Boardman, Greater Manchester’s Cycling and Walking Commissioner, said: “We’ve seen throughout lockdown how popular these local routes have become and how vital they have been in providing a space where people can get out for some fresh air and take a mental break. We have seen first-hand how important access to urban greenspace on our doorstep is and the vast response to the consultation only confirms that.
“This is an opportunity to bring the Fallowfield Loop and YBR up to Bee Network standards and tackle longstanding issues to provide a safe space for people to enjoy their local nature spots, as well as using it for longer cycling and walking trips.”