GROUND investigation work will begin this month as Cheshire East Council prepares to build the Middlewich eastern bypass.

Planning permission for the £58 million road was secured in April, and the local authority is now making strides towards beginning construction work in 2021.

Independent Cllr Craig Browne, deputy leader of CEC, said: “Works and ground surveys have begun in preparation for the construction of the Middlewich eastern bypass.

“The project team have begun demolishing New Farm, a vacant property owned by the council, so that it can become a site for temporary works during the construction of the bypass.

Winsford Guardian:

“Ground investigations are also about to start and will continue through to April 2020 as will a programme of environmental and habitat protection measures, stipulated by the planning conditions for the road.”

The ground investigation work will look at issues such as possible brine-related subsidence which the council needs to be aware of, while environmental work is expected to include the creation of new ponds and hedges being strengthened.

The Government is expected to provide £46.8 million towards the Middlewich eastern bypass, with that figure due to be confirmed once CEC submits a final business case to the Department for Transport.

Remaining costs for the road will be met by developer contributions and the council’s own capital budget, and CEC hopes to open the road in 2023.

“It shows that the council is making progress,” said Cllr Jonathan Parry, Labour CEC member for Middlewich.

Winsford Guardian:

“Until we see tarmac being laid out we will still be campaigning for it, but it is positive and it is moving along at the moment. Hopefully it can continue to progress.”

The news comes a week after Fiona Bruce, Conservative MP for Congleton, was given reassurances by the Government over the scheme’s progress in the House of Commons.

She told the Commons last Thursday: “Middlewich is clearly on the Government’s map for both road and rail investment, with £50 million for a bypass and funding for the business case for reopening the railway station.”

Winsford Guardian:

Responding to her question on whether the project is ‘continuing at pace’, transport minister George Freeman said: “Yes, I am delighted to reassure my honourable friend that we will make sure the pace is kept up and that the change in political control does not slow it down.

“We will make a decision on the final funding once a business case has been properly considered.”

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Mr Freeman also offered an update on the potential reopening of the Sandbach to Northwich passenger rail line.

A report published by consultants WSP in August said that the line could serve 140,000 passengers a year from a new Middlewich station, and that another business case is on the way.

Mr Freeman said: “My officials are now working with local partners on the development of that business case, which we will consider with Transport for the North.”