THE developers behind plans to transform a Middlewich eyesore expect work to begin this autumn following an ‘unforeseen delay’ in negotiations with the council.

Plans to overhaul the land behind Jack’s supermarket, in Wheelock Street, were approved by Cheshire East Council in April following a decade of uncertainty over the site, which has been a hotspot for anti-social behaviour.

Long-suffering neighbours urged councillors to approve the scheme, but the project has since been delayed as discussions between CEC and the developers – Henderson Homes and McCarthy and Stone – over Section 106 (S106) financial contributions have taken longer than anticipated.

At Monday’s Middlewich Town Council meeting, Cllr Dave Latham, independent, said: “The whole thing is stalling at the moment because CEC will not get off their backsides and respond accordingly to the developers and tell them how much S106 should be split and how much should be paid.

Winsford Guardian:

“The developers are asking Middlewich Town Council for help because they are wanting to do their best for the town, they are wanting to develop the land, they are wanting to sort the money out.”

Tesco – the owners of Jack’s, which replaced Middlewich’s Tesco-branded supermarket last year – wanted to use the land to expand its store back in 2009, but later shelved the scheme despite securing planning permission.

Members of CEC’s southern planning committee approved the development at the second time of asking in April.

McCarthy and Stone now has permission to build 50 retirement apartments and three retail units on the site, while Henderson Homes can build four one-bedroom flats, 14 two-bedroom houses and 17 three-bedroom homes.

Cllr Mike Hunter, Labour, has been chairman of CEC’s strategic planning board since May’s election.

He admitted that discussions over S106 are ‘a fine negotiation’, but insisted it is in the interests of Middlewich residents that the scheme is completed.

Cllr Hunter said: “I didn’t want it to have planning permission because I wanted part of that land to be used to extend Wheelock Street to give us more footfall through the town.

Winsford Guardian:

“Unfortunately that did not happen, and it is a great shame, but now it has planning permission.

“For the sake of the residents that live in and around that area the development has to get going so we can get rid of the anti-social behaviour on that land.”

Negotiations between the developers and CEC are now expected to be complete in the next few weeks, and the developers hope to begin work in the autumn.

A spokesman from The Planning Bureau, on behalf of McCarthy and Stone, said: “There has been an unforeseen delay in finalising the terms of the S106 agreement with CEC.

“This has now been resolved and all parties are working to having this agreed by the end of July and our client is looking forward to progressing with work on the site in the autumn.”

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A CEC spokesman added: “The council has been in discussion with both developers to ensure that the terms of the legal agreement – including matters of affordable housing – can be secured, whichever developer commences building their part of the site.

“It is hoped these matters will be concluded in the next few weeks.”