Winsford Industrial Estate has been mooted as a potential site for a new prison.
The Government wants to ‘explore’ employment land at the estate as part of its bid to ‘modernise the prison estate’, Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) has confirmed.
Local authorities across the country were asked by the Government in February to identify any sites which could be suitable for a prison.
CWaC revealed they reviewed ‘a number of’ potential locations across the borough and only two sites in Winsford met the majority of the criteria.
But cabinet member for infrastructure and economic development Cllr Brian Clarke has stressed that the plans are in the very early stages and the community will be fully consulted if the Government decides to proceed.
“The Government recently notified us of its intention to explore one site, identified in the Neighbourhood Plan as employment land at Winsford Industrial Estate, in further detail,” he said.
“We would emphasise that this is very much a scoping exercise and in no way represents a commitment by either the Government or the council to build a prison on the site.
“Should Winsford be identified as a preferred location, any development would be subject to the full and usual regulatory process and public consultation.”
He continued: “The Government is clear about the numerous benefits for local communities of building a new prison.
“A 2013 study showed that a new, large prison could provide an annual £22m boost to the local economy and create around 1,000 local jobs.”
MP for Eddisbury Antoinette Sandbach , however, has announced her opposition to a prison being built in Winsford and is calling on residents to sign an online petition – which has already attracted more than 400 signatures – to develop an industrial strategy for the area instead.
Ms Sandbach said: “When it comes to our industrial space we need to use this to attract more well-paying jobs and good quality industry to the town, a prison does not fit with any level of high ambition for our town’s future.”