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Cheshire East Council seeks urgent discussions with Government over Middlewich Eastern Bypass

Cheshire East Council says a further delay to approving the Middlewich Eastern Bypass is disappointing and is now seeking urgent discussions with Government to enable Ministers to finalise a decision.

In October 2023, the council submitted a detailed business case to Government for final sign off, which included details of developer contributions and a value for money case for the scheme – which clearly demonstrated a positive return on investment.

The council had originally anticipated a decision on the funding in December last year and was then told that it would not be until the new year.

Today, the Government has requested more information about the ‘overall value for money of the scheme’ before it will allow the project to proceed to construction at this time.

Main construction works had been due to begin within the next few months and early enabling works had already started.

Councillor Sam Corcoran, leader of Cheshire East Council, said:

“Since the outline business case for this scheme was approved by Government, huge increases in construction inflation have seen the costs of delivering the scheme rise by around £37m and the Government has also changed the way it calculates the benefits of schemes in terms of value for money.

“Both these factors are completely outside of the council’s control, but the Middlewich Eastern Bypass scheme still clearly demonstrates a positive return on investment.

“The council is disappointed to have not yet received approval for the scheme, and that more information has been requested by Government.

“We are seeking an urgent meeting with Government officials to ensure they have all the necessary information to enable them to finalise a decision as soon as possible.

“This further delay to the approval of the scheme is a further blow to the council’s growth and levelling up ambitions for the borough.

“It will also be a desperate disappointment for the residents of Middlewich, as well as the businesses that were hoping to come to new premises in Middlewich on the back of the bypass being completed.”

Councillor Mark Goldsmith, chair of Cheshire East Council’s highways and transport committee, said:

“Since 2019, Cheshire East Council has successfully completed the Poynton Relief Road and the Congleton Link Road projects so can demonstrate a strong track record of delivering major road projects.

“While we remain extremely keen to start main construction works on the scheme this year, this late request for additional information will be costly and does put at risk the affordability of the scheme.

“Until we have had further conversations with Government officials, we also do not yet know the impact of this on the timetable for delivering the scheme.”

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