COUNCIL chiefs are preparing to use compulsory purchase orders if necessary to make way for the Middlewich eastern bypass.

In a report going to cabinet on Tuesday, July 7, Cheshire East Council says its preferred option is to acquire all the land it needs by negotiation with landowners.

However, the council says the £58 million project will be ‘compromised’ if it cannot acquire all the land it needs, meaning it must prepare to use compulsory purchase orders if it needs to.

The report says: “The council will continue to seek to negotiate the acquisition of all of the legal interests in the land required for the construction of the scheme by agreement.

“However, the council may need to rely on compulsory purchase powers in the event that it is not possible to agree terms for the acquisition of all the remaining interests in the land required to facilitate construction of the scheme.

“The use of such powers would only ever be as a matter of last resort and would be in parallel to continued efforts to negotiate private acquisitions.”

CEC previously agreed to use compulsory purchase powers last July if needed, but another vote needs to take place following changes to the design of the bypass, which will save £3.5 million.

Cabinet members will vote on Tuesday to confirm which sections of land they will need to acquire and allow senior officers to prepare for any compulsory purchases.

That will include giving notice to the public, making every effort to acquire the land by negotiation first, and to defend the council’s position at a public inquiry should any objections be raised.

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The 2.6km Middlewich eastern bypass will run link the A54 at Pochin Way to the A533 towards Sandbach.

It is currently expected the main works will begin in 2021, with an estimated 22-month construction period.

CEC had spent £4.1 million on the project as of December 2019, the report adds.