DEVELOPERS behind one of the most divisive and long-awaited schemes in Middlewich have hit a stumbling block.

Permission was granted last year for McCarthy and Stone to build 50 retirement flats and three shops, alongside 34 houses from Henderson Homes, on land off Wheelock Street near Jack's.

But Cheshire East Council is now asking the developers for more information before they can make progress with the town centre scheme.

It has rejected six out of 14 requests for planning conditions imposed last year to be discharged – meaning CEC is not satisfied the developers have done all the work they need to before they can start building.

The council says it needs more information on phasing for the project, drainage for both surface water and individual houses, a pedestrian route through the site, tree levelling surveys and archaeological work before building can take place.

The eight other requests were approved however – including details on how construction will be carried out to minimise disruption for residents.

In its statement, Henderson Homes said: "There is a need to ensure that residents and businesses are protected from environmental disturbances.

Winsford Guardian:

34 houses are set to be built on the site

"We will ensure that measures are taken to protect residents, users of buildings close by and passersby from nuisance or harm."

Middlewich Town Council lodged an objection against the discharge of conditions back in February – but the three concerns it raised are separate to those which CEC wants ironing out.

In a statement sent to CEC, the town council raised 'serious concerns' about the potential for construction vehicles exiting the site to reverse the wrong way down Wheelock Street, called for air quality to be monitored around the site and flagged up the lack of a fire marshal on-site.

The land has stood derelict for more than a decade after expansion plans at the former Tesco supermarket were shelved, and it became a hotspot for anti-social behaviour, leading to many residents urging for swift action on the site.

In 2017, youngsters at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School wrote to then-landowner Tesco, calling for a ‘beautiful piece of community land that inspires, enhances and engages the community’.

Winsford Guardian:

St Mary's youngsters wrote a letter to Tesco

At the first CEC planning meeting where the plans were considered, neighbouring resident Gillian Ikin urged the committee to approve them to end anti-social behaviour on the site.

She said: “We have had drug addicts, homeless people, squatters, rats, and it’s just a shocking place to live – and it was a lovely area to live in.”

But councillors past and present have bemoaned the loss of the land as the last remaining space for development off Wheelock Street – insisting that it could be put to better use for the community.

Former Middlewich First councillor Mike Parsons told the planning committee last March: “This is the last bit of land in a town that already has no public space, no public realm and the shops are dying on their feet.

READ > Big thank you to shoppers from Wheelock Street traders

“We need a magnet to bring business to the town. If this land is lost to a development like this then Middlewich will become a ghost town.”

And after the project was delayed over legal agreements last July, Labour Cllr Mike Hunter insisted it was a ‘great shame’ the plans were approved as they were – but that work needed to begin to get rid of the grot spot ‘for the sake of the residents that live in and around that area’.