RESIDENTS are being urged to help shape the town over the next decade, as the Middlewich Neighbourhood Plan enters its referendum stage.

The plan has been seen by an independent examiner and, following minor amendments, has been recommended to proceed to next stage.

The document helps to create a strategy for development in the community. This sets out a shared vision that can influence the planning of the town over the next decade.

Cllr Bernice Walmsley, chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group, said: “It is a relief to get to this stage and now it is over to the residents of Middlewich to vote on a Neighbourhood Plan that will help to shape our town.

“This is part of the planning process that is being used by over a third of towns and villages in Cheshire East.

“I hope as many residents as possible will take this opportunity to have their say in the planning process.”

The vision for the plan is that by 2030, Middlewich will be a sustainable, vibrant and prosperous town in which people can enjoy living, working and following leisure pursuits.

One of the key objectives of the plan is to deliver a busy, people-focused place, with plenty to offer for both residents and visitors.

The plan has been criticised by Labour town councillors who believe that it will open Middlewich up to more housing developments without providing necessary infrastructure improvements.

Labour councillors Jonathan Parry, Carol Bulman and Mike Hunter voted against passing the plan onto Cheshire East Council at a town council meeting in October 2018.

Cllr Jonathan Parry said: “I am glad this is going to a referendum because in its current form this could ruin the town.

“It takes away our power as residents and town councillors, as developers will be able to build houses without providing the infrastructure which has been decimated in recent years.”

Applications to be included on the register for the referendum must be received no later than Tuesday, February 26.

Any changes to existing postal or proxy vote records must reach the electoral registration office in Macclesfield Town Hall by 5pm on Wednesday, February 27.

All new applications for proxy voting arrangements need to be submitted by 5pm on Wednesday, March 6.

All applications to vote by emergency proxy on the grounds of physical incapability or for work/service reasons must be submitted by 5pm on Thursday, March 14.

The referendum for the Neighbourhood Plan will take place on Thursday, March 14.