Can Cheshire East Grow?
Twenty years ago Wilmslow and Macclesifled, and the cluster of affluent villages around them, could look Manchester squarely in the eye: their economic status in the Cheshire stockbroker belt was undoubted. Today, it feels a little different.
As Manchester has grown in economic weight, so surrounding towns have been eclipsed. Now Cheshire East Council is preparing a plan to grow the area's economy to £16B a year, with a heavy emhpasis on the science corridor stretching from Manchester down to Alderley Park; and hopes for HS2, which could reach Crewe as soon as 2027.
The council's draft economic strategy for the years up to 2024 will, if successful, generate 6,200 jobs, create 7,200 new homes and exploit the area's productivity advantages.
The strategy relies on substantial infrastructure investment, along with targeted interventions into major centres like Crewe and Macclesfield.
"A programme of over £300M of new highways infrastructure is to be delivered in Cheshire East to [complement] the growth associated with the arrival of HS2, support the expansion of local businesses and commercial development opportunities, creating jobs and opening up strategic housing sites," the draft document said.
"Major schemes include Congleton Link Road, which will unlock around 2,200 new homes and 48 acres of employment land while removing heavy through traffic from the town centre; Middlewich Eastern Bypass, which is expected to deliver 1,950 new homes and 6,500 new jobs through land release; and the A500 duelling will remove a major pinch point at Junction 16, improve connectivity and ensure smooth passage for HS2 construction traffic."
The strategy's North West Crewe Package identifies two further development sites which offer the provision for 1,350 homes and a new local neighbourhood hub, plus 12 acres of employment land supporting future development and significantly enhancing connectivity to HS2 from surrounding areas.