MIDDLEWICH now has a bigger voice in the fight against unwanted development.

The town’s neighbourhood plan has been handed over for independent examination following the latest round of statutory consultation.

It means that the emerging plan will now be given bigger weight in planning decisions – as national guidelines say that the further a neighbourhood plan is towards being adopted, the bigger the weight it should be given.

Cllr Bernice Walmsley, Cheshire East Council member for Middlewich, is chairman of the town’s neighbourhood plan steering group.

“It has taken a long time to get to where we are now but I am pleased we have got to this stage,” she said.


“The inspector will go through the plan with a fine tooth comb – a really fine tooth comb – to check it complies with the law and has no repetition.

“We just need to get through the inspection and then it is another step towards the referendum, which has got to be done before purdah begins in March [for next May’s local elections].

“The plan now goes into the balance for planning decisions, and I would be surprised if it is ignored.”

The latest round of consultation came to an end on November 30.

Once the neighbourhood plan has passed examination, it can be put forward to residents in a referendum, who will then decide whether or not to approve it.

CEC has also passed the neighbourhood plans for Congleton and Knutsford on for independent examination.