MIDDLEWICH could see the £2.2 million traveller transit site at Cledford Hall open its doors in January 2022.

Cheshire East cabinet members voted to give Frank Jordan, the council’s executive director of place, permission to enter into a construction contract for the site to a preferred bidder on Tuesday afternoon (December 1) — meaning that should the associated planning application be given approval in March, work on the project will begin in June for a scheduled January 2022 completion.

That was despite two Labour Middlewich councillors — the same party as CEC leader Sam Corcoran — questioning the suitability of the site.

Cllr Jonathan Parry, who is also the council’s mental health champion, said: “Cheshire East does need a transit site in the right location. Having spoken to the travelling community, the main issue they had was that a transit site should be on the main travelling route — which Cledford Hall is not.

“The site has evolved since it last came to the table. The eastern bypass means there will be a lot more traffic there now, so questions have to be raised over the suitability of the site for residential use.”

Cllr Parry also highlighted concerns over the noise from the nearby Wincanton lorry park.

His comments were supported by fellow Middlewich representative Cllr Carol Bulman.

Cllr Bulman said: “Maybe now this site does not any longer comply with the latest government recommendations… it says travelling communities should not be near industry. It is not a place we would build houses.”

In response, cabinet member Cllr Nick Mannion said the Cheshire and Warrington traveller team had identified it as an ideal location for such a facility.

Cllr Mannion’s cabinet colleague Cllr Mick Warren also said that smaller issues raised by Cllr Parry, such as a lack of pavements along Cledford Lane, could be ironed out in the planning application.

Winsford Guardian:

The comments from Cllrs Bulman and Parry are just another chapter in a long-running battle over the site, which is set to cost CEC close to £1.7 million, with a further £500,000 coming from Homes England.

Council chiefs argue this investment is a wise one, as it allows the authority to have a more ‘proactive’ role in managing traveller encampments.

This would be achieved, they say, by using police powers to direct the travelling community to the permanent transit site — rather than apply for court orders to remove them from public spaces.