Cheshire West & Chester has joined the growing list of local authorities willing to consider removing green belt protection from land to build houses.
The borough's core strategy, the 15-year planning blueprint, recommends building 20,000 new homes, mainly around the regeneration priority areas; Chester, Ellesmere Port, Northwich, Winsford and the rural area.
- Chester 4,935 new homes – 329 / year
- Ellesmere Port 3,945 new homes – 263 / year
- Northwich 2,970 new homes – 198 / year
- Winsford 2,970 new homes – 198 / year
- Rural 4,935 new homes – 329 / year
The council said: "Should these targets be approved, it is likely that the Council would need to identify some land currently in the Green Belt around Chester. This would take place through a detailed review of the Green Belt boundary."
Also considering green belt release in their core strategies are Cheshire East, Sefton and West Lancashire. Councils are coming under increasing pressure to fill the gap between high demand and low supply of housing and do not have sufficient brownfield sites to do the job alone.
Cllr Herbert Manley, executive member for prosperity at Cheshire West & Chester, said: "The core strategy is a key document that impacts on the lives of everyone who lives in, works in and visits Cheshire West.
"We are extremely grateful to everyone who gave us their thoughts on which direction they believe future growth in the borough should take.
"The right level of development will support population growth and boost the economy, while preventing detrimental impact on the unique character of our borough.
"Building on the feedback received and the evidence we have been gathering, the mid option for development has emerged as the most suitable option.
"The next step is to develop and test this option in more detail and we will be consulting widely on this next year – it is vital that this strategy is shaped by people who live, work in and visit the borough."
In Chester, a new commercial office quarter in the city centre, around the train station, is proposed. Ellesmere Port is judged to have 'great potential in meeting future employment needs' and is unlikely to need any additional land allocations because of the existing healthy supply of land for development.
The report suggests that existing supply of employment land in Northwich and Winsford would be sufficient.
In the rural area, the focus would be on small-scale allocations in market towns as well as extending existing rural employment areas.
The council's planning panel will consider the report next Monday 1 August. Its recommendation will go before the council's executive in September.