COUNCIL chiefs insist they will take on board residents’ concerns about the next part of the local plan – including a possible traveller transit site in Middlewich.

Consultation recently came to an end on Cheshire East Council’s latest draft for its Site Allocations and Development Policies Document (SADPD).

In its latest iteration, the crucial planning document sets aside Cledford Hall for 10 transit pitches for gypsies and travellers.

But Middlewich councillors insist the site is not suitable for gypsy and traveller accommodation – and a petition against the move has attracted 486 signatures so far.

At Thursday’s full council meeting, Cllr Craig Browne, deputy leader of CEC, announced that the council will now review the feedback it received on the SADPD – and it could change its plans based on what it has been told by residents.

He said: “We have been hugely impressed with the level and depth of engagement from both residents and businesses.

Winsford Guardian:

“We did promise that we would be a listening administration and that when we consult with residents we would take on board their views wherever possible.

“So we now wish to take some time to review the feedback we have received before deciding how to move forward.

“This may involve us making changes to the original publication and carrying out a further round of consultation.”

Councils with a transit site can provide suitable temporary accommodation for gypsies and travellers, while the site gives police the power to immediately close down unauthorised encampments.

CEC does not have a transit site, but borough chiefs confirmed they were considering reviving their original plans for Cledford Hall this summer following a string of unauthorised encampments across the borough – most notably at Barony Park, in Nantwich, which forced the closure of the site’s leisure centre.

Cledford Hall received planning permission for a transit site in 2015, but the plans failed to materialise before time ran out last year.

The plans were fiercely contested the first time around – with residents, councillors and Fiona Bruce MP all lodging objections – and they have not proved any more popular this year.

Cllr Jonathan Parry and Cllr Carol Bulman, two of Middlewich’s Labour CEC members, presented a report to cabinet in August explaining why Cledford Hall is not suitable for a transit site.

The report – which looks at best practice guidelines previously set by Government – suggests Cledford Hall is too close to the Ansa site in Cledford Lane, has poor access to schools because of a lack of pavements on the road, and would be too close to Middlewich’s settled traveller community, which could cause conflict.

Meanwhile, Middlewich Town Council is set to discuss Cledford Hall at its meeting next Monday.

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A motion put forward by Cllr Parry, Labour member on both town and borough councils, says: “Middlewich Town Council calls on CEC to hold off any planning application for the traveller transit site until at least the SADPD is approved.”

For the petition, visit chng.it/xMxYGrGz