One year on, Temple Sowerbyenjoys the benefits of its bypass

Date: Friday 7th November 2008

“BLOOMIN’ marvellous” is how the last 12 months have been for Temple Sowerby GP Gavin Young, who said the year since the long-awaited village bypass was finally opened had been “lovely and quiet”.

James and his father Gavin Young wityh a backdrop of the new bypass.
James and his father Gavin Young wityh a backdrop of the new bypass.

The lack of traffic had had a very positive impact on life in Temple Sowerby. “Youactually see children playing. They are out crossing the road to go and play with their friends. It was very scary before, whether you were on a bicycle or just trying to cross the road,” he said.

Dr. Young was one of the fiercestcampaigners for the bypass from the time he moved to the village in 1981 and he sawfirst-hand the damage that could be caused when his son, James, was seriously injured while crossing the road. “The whole place just felt dangerous all the time and I think James’s awful accident brought that home to everybody. There had been severalaccidents and there was a perpetualpervasive feeling of danger. Now, it is a lot more relaxed,” he said.

Angela Cleasby, campaigner and clerk to Temple Sowerby Parish Council, agreed that life had changed dramatically since the opening of the bypass.

Mrs. Cleasby, who has lived in a house next to the old A66 for the past 30 years, said the difference in the village was“unbelievable”. She has also been thrilled to see children playing on the green again and for them to be able to meet their friends without adults having to supervise them, because of the great fear of the road.

Fears that the village would becomeisolated when traffic did not have to pass through any more have not been realised. “I think it has brought people into the village rather than the opposite, but it is now with people rather than traffic,” she said.

Mrs. Cleasby added that wildlife hadflourished, too. “In March I saw an otterlollopping down the pavement. It was lovely. We also see a lot of red squirrels and a lot more wildlife in general.”

She added that she hoped the bypass had made the village a more appealing place to live and she had already come acrosspeople who were considering moving into Temple Sowerby who said they would never have thought about it before the bypass.

Nigel Pallister, managing director of Cumbrian Homes, agreed that the bypass had created a renewed interest in housing in the village. He said his company had seen a huge amount of interest in its development at Templar Court.

“As the only new construction projectcurrently within the village, there’s been a huge amount of interest in the development and we have now sold the first of these homes and confidently expect to becompleting purchases on the remaining four designs in the near future,” he said.

“The A66 used to split this village in half but, at a stroke, the opening of the bypass removed some 13,000 vehicles a day,allowing the residents to regain thetranquility of this superb and very traditional Westmorland setting at the foot of the fells.”

Julie Evans, of Temple Sowerby House Hotel, said the bypass had been great news for her business, too, as although the thick walls of the 19th Century building had always blocked out traffic noise, guests had commented that it was now very peaceful, with views across to Cross Fell uninterrupted by traffic.

“Now there’s no reason not to come no worries about traffic noise just a lovely peaceful village setting with wonderful views across the maypole green towards Cross Fell. Many people have already been to stay for the first time who didn’t come before because of worries about the road,” she said.

She added that good, clear signage from the bypass had helped to ensure thatbusiness levels were maintained.

Roland Cowin, of R. and D. Cowin’s Hazeldene garden centre, Culgaith, said the bypass had initially had a negative impact upon his business, but once local traders put up a sign indicating what kind of services were available in Culgaith, things picked up.

He said: “Initially the bypass really did have a large effect on the business it diminished by quite a large margin but after about three or four months, and once we got a sign on the bypass, things picked up and we are now about back where we should be.

“At first, people were taking the Temple Sowerby exit and not the Culgaith exit and missing us, but now I think the bypass is good for us, because it is much safer.”

After decades of campaigning by villagers, the £39.6 million stretch of dual carriageway was completed ahead of schedule and it was officially opened in October, 2007.