Leading Labour figures are angry over the borough council’s aims for future housing development in the town.
They claim the draft local plan for Cheshire West, four years in the making and due for consultation, relies ‘too heavily’ on releasing greenfield sites on the edge of the town instead of encouraging the re-development of former industrial land.
Just under 5,000 new homes are suggested over the next 20 years.
Former Ellesmere Port and Neston planning chairman Cllr Mark Henesy said: “The plan doesn’t give sufficient weight to the development of Ellesmere Port’s large areas of disused brownfield sites close to the town centre.
“It makes no use of this land for residential development but continues to earmark the old HH Robertson site on Cromwell Road as non-food retail while the adjacent derelict DSM Resins site is not designated for any development.
“These sites, together with the Peel Holdings Riverside development, would more than meet the housing need for Ellesmere Port well into the middle of this century.”
He added: “Ellesmere Port’s centre needs urgent development.
“The best way to achieve this is by bringing people closer to the centre.
“But the draft local plan undermines the development of the town by allowing large scale residential development to take place on edge-of-town, greenfield land like at Ledsham Park and Backford.”
Ellesmere Port Town ward borough councillor and Labour opposition leader Cllr Justin Madders said: “The strategic planning committee has already rejected the application for housing on a significant portion of the Ledsham Road site.
“So why does the council then propose very similar plans within a matter of days?
“The case for development on this site has not been made and I am worried by this apparent unwillingness to push development on brownfield sites first.
“Instead, this plan offers developers easy pickings that won’t regenerate our town.”
He told the council’s Tory controlled executive: “I am disappointed at the lack of vision for the town centre.
“We need regeneration in Ellesmere Port, it is happening in other town centres in the borough.
“There should be more focus on homes so that it is a place which thrives rather than declines.”
Cllr Margaret Parker, Conservative chairman of the panel which prepared the plan, believes ‘this is a robust, sustainable plan which we need to adopt as quickly as possible if we are to protect the borough from the worst effects of unplanned development’.
Labour insists there should be no development at Ledsham Road, where 1,500 homes are proposed, but borough leader Cllr Mike Jones (Con) points out the town’s former Labour administration removed the land from the Green Belt.
He has also revealed a report on the future of Ellesmere Port town centre is to go to the executive in October.