Chorlton roadworks

Businesses harmed in Chorlton by new cycleways

  • Divide in opinion over new Chorlton cycleways
  • 23% footfall drop due to roadworks
  • Independent businesses disrupted for months

Business owners in Chorlton have been sharing their disappointment on social media over the new cycleway system.

The ‘Dutch-style’ cycle way, originally proposed back in 2018 with a grant of £3.9m, intends to connect the suburb to the city centre.

The work which began in February 2023 was scheduled to finish in September of the same year. But the work is still ongoing, becoming a problem for both locals and business owners in the area.

There has been criticism on the scheme made previously by other traders to Manchester Evening News.

The roadworks are still ongoing in Chorlton / Photo credit: Anna Klekot

Jonathan Barnett, the owner of Smoak Coffee is amongst those who have spoken out on the cycleways. The popular cafe opened its doors on Manchester Road in Chorlton over 18 months ago. 

When talking about the process of the roadworks, he said: “as of this year, mid-February, there was no work being done at all, which was more frustrating than some of the more disruptive stuff like drilling which you would expect.

“I’m on speaking terms with the councillors but quite frankly there are no funds in place and there were no correct contracts it appears with the contractors to compensate businesses, should [the] work become negligent or disruptive.”

There is still work ongoing on the footpath and cycle lane outside Smoak, but they aren’t the only place experiencing disruptions due to this, a lot of businesses have witnessed a huge drop in footfall in the area.

Jonathan Barnett has opened his cafe over 18 months ago in Chorlton / Photo Credit: Anna Klekot

A time of crisis

The cafe was shortlisted for coffee shop of the year in 2023 by Manchester Food and Drink Festival. But despite of this, Jonathan notices less people coming in whilst the work is ongoing.

“Footfall’s down 23%. There’s 1 in 4 less people walking past the shops around here and that’s going to have a double-digit percentage impact on businesses.”

Adding, “Footfall isn’t like a light switch – it isn’t going to come straight back on when road works are finished so it’s something that we need to work on rebuilding.”

The businesses are now on speaking terms with the council but are concerned about the long-term effect of this disruption.

Manchester Road in Chorlton / Photo Credit: Anna Klekot

A ghost town

Just down the road from Chorlton, West Didsbury is a ‘ghost-town’ after seeing many businesses close after an increase in rent.

When speaking about the situation in Chorlton, Jonathan has said: “regeneration is a good thing, but the way it’s been executed has created some serious risk and danger into what might happen.It’s unclear in which direction it might go. I’m not against regeneration it’s a good idea.”

Cllr Mandie Shilton Godwin, councillor for Chorlton Park has said: “I’m really excited about the walking and cycleway nearing completion and I see it likely to grow in use over time as the Oxford Road one has once its fully open. It’s been a long time coming.

“There are still some snags to be overcome and we had a problem over the weekend when there was an electricity outage in the north side of Chorlton that meant that the cycle lane had to be closed to resolve it.”

She added, “In Manchester almost 30% of our carbon emissions are caused by vehicles and if we are to resolve that, then we must make it easy and safe for people to travel by bike and on foot – its also far safer for people on mobility scooters.”