A MULTI-million pound hub of rural business will be built on the outskirts of Middlewich now it has been given the green light by planners.

A 47-acre site off Holmes Chapel Road and Pochin Way is earmarked for Cheshire Fresh, a scheme that will bring Chelford and Beeston cattle markets together in a new auction centre for Cheshire.

Further outline plans also passed for the site include a food production centre, garden centre, farm shop, restaurants, cafes, veterinary practices , business units and offices, machinery dealership, starter industrial units and light industrial, manufacturing and distribution areas.

As 80 per cent of the site is in west Cheshire and 20 per cent in east, Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWAC) was given the authority to decide on the plans, which were put forward by Pochin Property, Frank Marshall and Wright Manley.

They caused debate in the council chamber with supporters heralding Cheshire Fresh as a ‘springboard for the economy’ and a unique facility for the county while objectors said they feared an increase in traffic, the impact on town centres and the effect of the development on the countryside.

Clr Simon McGrory, a Middlewich ward councillor on Cheshire East Council, wrote a letter of support that was read out at CWAC’s strategic planning committee meeting on Thursday.

He said: “This is an enormous springboard for the economy of east and west and Cheshire East Council shows complete support for Cheshire Fresh.

“It will promote economic prosperity by creating the conditions for business growth.”

Gwyn Williams, from Frank Marshall, highlighted the unique aspect of the Cheshire Fresh project and said that without it both Chelford and Beeston markets, and their combined business of around £60million, could be forced out of the county.

“These auction facilities are unlike anything else in the region,” he said.

“The benefits of the application are extensive.”

But Holmes Chapel Road resident Andrew Ramshall argued that the development would ruin the quality of life for residents in terms of traffic and noise.

“The retail side could cause further traffic problems and have a detrimental effect on the already struggling Middlewich town centre,” he said.

Clr Jim McKechnie, Sproston Parish Council chairman, said: “We’re not against development in general but in this instance it’s not in the right place.

“Our strongest objections are concerning the extra traffic this will have on the already heavily congested A54, it’s significant environmental impact and that it doesn’t meet the edge of town development criteria and will have an adverse effect on Northwich, Winsford and Middlewich.”

The committee voted eight to one to approve the scheme as well as more than 50 planning conditions which will be drawn up fully by planning officers.