A six-week public consultation is due to begin on proposals for the 57-acre brownfield Brooks Lane site, which has the potential for up to 450 homes alongside leisure and retail.
Barton Willmore has prepared the draft masterplan for Cheshire East, informed by two drop-in events with residents, businesses and landowners at the site, along with meetings with the Town Council.
A key element of the plan is developing the Trent & Mersey Canal-side area of the site for housing, specifically in bringing forward around 200 homes in the short to medium term.
The Brooks Lane industrial estate site sits to the east of the town centre, between the canal and north-south railway line, with the Ma6nitude logistics park sitting on the other side of the railway line.
Brooks Lane runs through the centre of the site. There are around 60 businesses currently based within the site area, along with around 20 houses, and businesses including the Kings Lock pub, with the masterplan being developed to integrate with all these elements.
Along with the housing, the masterplan is to allow for:
- the delivery of leisure and community facilities to the north of the site
- the provision of appropriate retail facilities to meet local needs
- the incorporation of green infrastructure
- the improvement of existing, and provision of new, pedestrian and cycle links to connect development to existing employment, residential areas, shops, schools health facilities, recreation and leisure opportunities and the town centre
- the potential provision of a Marina at the Trent and Mersey Canal
- the provision of land for a new railway station including lineside infrastructure, access and forecourt parking.
The masterplan also includes the enhancement of Murgatroyd’s Brine Pump, the last remaining part of the former eponymous salt works, which is a scheduled monument but currently inaccessible to the public.
Around 15 acres of land could provide up to 200 homes in the short term, helping with the council’s Local Plan targets, while a further 13.8 acres could be developed over the longer term, providing a further 250 homes over 20 years.
The site is split into four broad character areas: Town Centre Gateway, Train Station Gateway, Canalside Village and Marina Village. The south western portion could form phase one of housing delivery.
The development of a railway station, improving accessibility both to the town itself and Midpoint 18, is a major point for the proposal, with council officers stating that it could address a long-standing ambition to reopen the Sandbach-Middlewich-Northwich line reopened, although Barton Willmore’s report stresses that further technical assessment is required.
Brooks Lane, a now-underused industrial estate, has been a contentious point on recent planning applications, with schemes coming forward in 2017 for a marina and apartments by Green4Development and for housing at the Intertechnic UK site.
Steven Whitehouse, urban design associate at Barton Willmore, told Place North West: “The whole idea is based on partnership., the council were and are keen to work with businesses and landowners who operate on the site. Elements of the business park work well, and the masterplan needed to reflect that.
“Regeneration is an evolving process, and the design is driven by flexibility on future phases – a railway station could be a massive game-changer and might mean the sites’s appeal changes in years to come.”