LABOUR members will call on Middlewich to become just the third place in the country to reject its neighbourhood plan unless changes are made.

Middlewich Town Council agreed to pass the plan onto Cheshire East Council last week for further consultation and examination, after residents had their say on the draft plan over the summer.

But Cllr Jonathan Parry, Labour member of Middlewich Town Council, insists the views of residents have been ignored.

And he says his party will call on the town to turn the plan down when it goes to referendum if it remains the same – following in the footsteps of Thornton, in Hull, last month and Swanwick, in Derbyshire, in October 2016.

“Democracy will prevail if it is not changed between now and the referendum,” he said.

“People are not stupid. We have suffered for years in Middlewich with too much development and people have just had enough. We will definitely campaign against it.”

Middlewich is earmarked for 1,950 new homes by 2030 in CEC’s local plan – a separate document which the neighbourhood plan must comply with for it to be legally valid.

Meanwhile, the town’s eastern bypass is expected to be complete in winter 2021.

Cllr Parry believes the neighbourhood plan ‘should not be making it easier for developers’, and instead calls on development to be stopped in town until the bypass is completed.

“The infrastructure just cannot cope with what we have got now,” he added.

“There is no way I can support the neighbourhood plan as it is. Middlewich First councillors are trying to push this plan through against the wishes of our town.”

Cllr Parry voted against passing the neighbourhood plan on to CEC at last Monday’s town council meeting, along with his fellow Labour councillors Mike Hunter and Carol Bulman.

But only Cllr Bulman raised concerns about the plan during the debate before the vote was taken.

Cllr Bernice Walmsley, Middlewich First member and chairman of the steering group committee, said: “After a lot of work by the steering group, it was great to see the Middlewich neighbourhood plan moving a step closer to being adopted.

“It was disappointing that some councillors voted against it and I have no insight into why they did so without even asking questions or entering into the debate in any way.”

At the meeting, Cllr Walmsley told members that the neighbourhood plan could not be used to restrict the amount of development in Middlewich.

Planning consultant Louise Kirkup, who has worked with the neighbourhood plan steering group, also told councillors that the plan ‘would probably fail the examination’ if it called for a ban on development until the Middlewich eastern bypass is built.

Cllr Walmsley added: “I know that the number of houses being built in Middlewich is a concern but it was clearly explained by the planning consultant that a neighbourhood plan is a planning document that cannot act as a brake on development pending delivery of infrastructure.

“It might make a nice political slogan but it is simply not legal and deliverable in planning terms.

“The plan does, of course, support the delivery of vital infrastructure such as the bypass, reopening our rail station, and delivery of walking and cycling routes as well as protecting our parks and play areas.”