The local authority looks set to adopt a development framework for the Brooks Lane area as a supplementary planning document, strengthening its ability to shape the area around an initial 200 houses and potentially a railway station.
Two six-week consultations have been held, the output of them forming the basis of a report by Barton Willmore that goes before Cheshire East’s cabinet next week. The council is looking to set a context to guide planning decisions in a now under-used industrial area that has seen several contested schemes proposed in recent years, such as at the Intertechnic UK site.
The requirement for a masterplan for the area is now written into Cheshire East’s Local Plan strategy, and if adopted, the site will house around 200 homes in the site’s southern part; and leisure and community facilities to the north of the site, including “appropriate retail”, with green infrastructure, walking and cycling infrastructure, and potentially a 20-berth marina on the Trent & Mersey Canal also included.
There could also be land allocated for a railway station – Middlewich has been without a rail connection since the 1960s Beeching cuts. Cheshire & Warrington LEP commissioned a feasibility study for rail projects including Middlewich in 2019.
Cheshire East is looking for 200 homes to be brought forward in the shorter term, to meet Local Plan requirements. Redevelopment of the wider site in the longer term could mean a further 250 homes, with the council keen to see a broad mix of tenures including family homes, starter homes and older persons’ accommodation.
That phase one housing can be accommodated in full while businesses in the area remain operational, but it is noted that “a more significant regeneration proposal could see more of the site coming forward for redevelopment in the longer term, extending beyond 2030”. The railway station could be the key, with part of the longer-term development area marked as a station “gateway” development area.
To the north, the town centre gateway is described as the part of the site where “an acceptable relationship between employment and new residential uses will need to be achieved”.