AMBITIOUS plans for a multi-million pound rural business hub could 'devastate Middlewich', fear councillors and residents.

Developers want to build a garden centre, veterinary practice, farm shop, restaurant, offices and a distribution centre on a 47-acre site off Holmes Chapel Road.

Until a bypass is built, protestors say the town's clogged roads simply couldn't cope with all the extra traffic the Cheshire Fresh scheme is likely to attract.

Resident Frances Cowper, who lives beside the proposed retail park and owns Accord Clinic in the town, said: "It would cause complete mayhem. This road is already chock-a-block.

"It would have a major impact on people's livelihoods as shoppers aren't going to drive into town if they are stuck in traffic."

Jim McKechnie, Sproston Parish Council chairman, who lives on the main road said: "We are not against development but this would absolutely kill the area.

"It would devastate Middlewich.The road network is already clogged, 20,000 vehicles a day come down this road and 70 per cent are HGVs. We can taste toxic fumes in our house! It is absolutely horrendous. We are deeply worried."

Cllr Jonathan Parry, Middlewich ward member at Cheshire East Council, said: "The town is absolutely at bursting point traffic wise and can't handle any more development.

"Until a bypass is built, the infrastructure is not in place for this. We need to solve the problem with the traffic first."

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Jonathan Parry says a bypass must be built first

In the meantime, he vowed to explore ways to try and regenerate the town centre.

"In the 16 years I have lived here I have seen a massive deterioration in Middlewich," he said. "It is a lovely place with a lot of history and could be thriving again.

"I really feel for the businesses. Many of them operate on shoestring budgets. I think the council should see what concessions we can offer to attract new businesses.

"There are people who want to open a shop but they need to be able to make a profit and a living to survive themselves.

"If a scheme is viable for the council and new traders, it could help to attract enterprising new businesses."

Cllr Parry said he shares a vision with fellow Labour councillors Mike Hunter and Carol Bulman to 'make a difference' to the town.

He added: "We all live in Middlewich and care deeply about our town. We want to see it thrive again and see positive change.

"We want to be able to look back and see that we have made a positive difference to Middlewich."

Cllr Carol Bulman said: "As long as we have the infrastructure in place, anything that grows the town and provides jobs is very welcome."

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Carol Bulman says the infrastructure must be in place before the Cheshire Fresh development is considered

Cheshire Fresh, first drawn up in 2013 won outline planning consent in 2014. After being shelved two years ago, an amended application is back on the table.

The project, taken over by a joint venture between construction companies Pochin and DB Symmetry, known as DBS Pochin, is now seeking full approval.

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A spokesman for DBS Pochin said:“Our commitment to promoting the site is ongoing and we look forward to progressing with our vision for the scheme in Middlewich.”