CLEDFORD Hall is still the preferred option for a traveller transit site in Cheshire East despite fierce opposition.

A transit site provides a place for short-term stays, with the opportunity to access health and education services, while having one gives police powers to move gipsies and travellers off unauthorised encampments.

Cheshire East Council approved plans for a transit site at Cledford Hall, in Cledford Lane, back in 2015 – only for that planning permission to lapse after three years.

A decision to revive the project last year sparked further objections from councillors and Fiona Bruce MP who insist the location is completely unsuitable – but a new council document shows CEC officers are keen to see the project finally become a reality.

In a report explaining why Cledford Hall should be used, which will be debated by CEC's strategic planning board on Friday, officers said: "The site is in the council's ownership and is available for gipsy and traveller use.

"The principle of development has been accepted on the site previously, as demonstrated by its previous planning permission.

"Infrastructure providers have not raised an objection to the site. There are no other sites that perform better than this site that could be progressed instead."

CEC's plans for 10 transit pitches at Cledford Hall are contained in the latest draft of its Site Allocations and Development Policies Document (SADPD) – the second part of the council's local plan.

That document went to a further round of consultation last year, which gave Middlewich's councillors and MP the chance to object.

Cllr Jonathan Parry and Cllr Carol Bulman, Labour, presented CEC's cabinet with a report last August explaining why they believe the site is unsuitable.

Winsford Guardian:

Cllr Parry discusses Cledford Hall at last August's cabinet meeting

It said Cledford Hall is too close to the Ansa site, has poor access to schools because of a lack of pavements in Cledford Lane, and would be too close to Middlewich’s settled traveller community – which could cause conflict.

Cllr Parry says he will continue to fight the plans 'tooth and nail'.

He told the Guardian: "It is not about nimbyism – there are people from the travelling community that are against this. It is the wrong location entirely.

"Would they build houses there? It is down the road from Ansa, you get bin lorries and British Salt wagons going down there, there are no pavements – they would never entertain that for housing.

"We need a transit site in Cheshire East but it must be in the right location. It is a massive area and we need to find a site that suits everyone."

Mrs Bruce added her opposition last September, insisting the Ansa site and the forthcoming Middlewich eastern bypass – which will be constructed nearby – makes Cledford Hall 'even less suitable' than in 2015.

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Following Friday's discussion, the draft SADPD is due to go to cabinet next Tuesday.

Once that is approved, CEC will need to submit a specific planning application for Cledford Hall.