The plan to help guide development across Middlewich, including new housing and employment sites, has been refused by residents with 1,083 voting against and 1,063 supporting the proposals.
Cheshire East has been progressing the neighbourhood plan since 2014, with Middlewich Town Council forming a steering group to manage the process.
A draft plan was put forward for public consultation last year, and this was submitted to Cheshire East in October 2018; another consultation followed, followed by a referendum of local residents.
However, residents voted against the neighbourhood plan by just 22 votes, meaning it will not form part of Cheshire East’s development plan, giving it no legal status in future decision making, including planning, in Middlewich.
Objectives of the plan, which covers between 2018 and 2030, included the creation of a “new, vibrant, and attractive town centre” with development opportunities including improved public realm and new housing.
Employment sites around the M6 were said to be key, with an enlarged Midpoint 18 among the key priorities. A number of major projects are due to be added to the area in the coming years; these include the £58.5m Middlewich Eastern Bypass, which runs from the Salt Cellar roundabout to the A54. This is expected to unlock significant amounts of housing and employment land to the south of the town.
Other schemes include the 57-acre brownfield Brooks Lane site, which has the potential for up to 450 homes alongside leisure and retail. A public consultation took place on this site last year.
Ma6nitude, being brought forward by DB Symmetry and Pochin’s, is also under way, with a further 300,000 sq ft being brought forward at a neighbouring site.
To date, 22 neighbourhood plans have been formed in Cheshire East, including Knutsford’s, which was passed at referendum last week.
Frank Jordan, Cheshire East Council’s executive director for place, said: “Neighbourhood planning provides a powerful set of tools for local people to shape development in their communities.
“The council continues to be an enthusiastic supporter of plan making in communities across the borough and has resources to advise and support the development of plans by town and parish councils.
“Should Middlewich Town Council wish to pursue the neighbourhood plan project further, resource and advice remain available from the planning authority.”