COUNCILLORS and residents of Sproston have joined together in opposition to a large-scale rural business hub being built off Holmes Chapel Road, saying the development would ‘devastate the town of Middlewich’.

The parish council, having spoken with residents, submitted a letter of objection to Cheshire West and Chester Council, urging planning officers to reject the Cheshire Fresh scheme, which has been brought back onto the table after being shelved in 2017.

Jim McKechnie, Sproston Parish Council chairman, spoke to the Guardian on behalf of the parish council and a group of Sproston residents, and said the overriding concern was the impact on the road infrastructure, which he believed was already insufficient.

Mr McKechnie said: “We are not against development in general, but this contravenes many local plan policies and there has been no consideration given to local communities and infrastructure in this area.

“The feeling from residents and the council is that the road network on the surrounding roads and in particular the A54 is dangerous and already at breaking point, with lorries queuing morning and evening both ways through Sproston, not to mention the noise, vibration and fumes from stationary lorries.

“Some residents live less than three metres from the road with 40 tonne plus HGVs hurtling past doing over the 40 mph speed limit, which is surely an accident waiting to happen. This road is also a black spot for toxic fumes and a health hazard to all residents.

“If this development for an out-of-town general shopping centre was to go ahead, it will devastate the town of Middlewich for shopping and also have a big impact on Holmes Chapel.”

The elaborate plans for the 47-acre rural business hub were first drawn up in 2013 and included a livestock auction centre, which is part of the scheme which has already been given full approval.

However, the latest application now seeks full approval for a garden centre, veterinary practice, farm shop, restaurant, offices and distribution centre.