Cheshire East to green light £59m Middlewich bypass

The 1.7-mile road, designed to unlock major employment sites to the south of the town centre, could get under way in 2020 with Cheshire East Council to sign off the latest stage of the project next week.

The proposed road, valued at around £58.5m, will run from the Salt Cellar roundabout on the A54, to Booth Lane, south of Middlewich. The single carriageway road is expected to unlock significant amounts of housing and employment land south of the town.

Among these is Midpoint 18, which has planning consent for around 250,000 sq ft of logistics space; according to Cheshire East, up to 1,160 new homes and 6,500 new jobs are expected to be created once the scheme is complete.

It has been supported by £46.8m of Government cash along with a further £11.2m from the council’s capital budget and from developer contributions.

Alongside the road, a dual-use cycle and footway is proposed which will link into existing walking, cycling, and public rights-of-way at each end, and at two points along the route linking to existing public footpaths.

A planning application for the project is due to be approved by Cheshire East’s strategic planning board next week; following this, a pre-construction agreement is likely to begin to bring the scheme to site. If all goes to plan, construction could start in 2020, with contractor Balfour Beatty delivering the road through Scape’s infrastructure framework.

Ahead of next week’s committee, planning officers argued the road would “boost business productivity in the local area through improving the efficiency and reliability of the highway network,” although the report acknowledged there would be “some adverse effects on the environment, particularly in terms of the landscape and visual impacts during construction, and flood risk once operational”.

“The need for an eastern bypass of Middlewich has been acknowledged for many years, following the development of a scheme by Cheshire County Council in the early 1990’s. Completion of the proposed bypass will provide traffic routes to avoid the town centre and enable access to the Midpoint 18 strategic employment site,” added planning officers.

The proposals have been backed by Middlewich Town Council which has expressed “very strong support” for the road, arguing: “If we get this right, the bypass can be a genuine force for regeneration… to make Middlewich a better, safer, more efficient and prosperous place to live and work”.

However, the feedback is not all positive; while Sandbach Town Council “understands the need for the bypass”, it has flagged concerns that this “is at the expense of a detrimental effect on Sandbach”.

Cheshire East’s strategic planning board meets on 24 April.

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