PEOPLE are to have the chance to have their say on a brief for up to 8,000 new homes near the M53.

The massive 25 year development could see 30 storey high skyscrapers on the Ellesmere Port waterfront.

The draft brief has been drawn up for the future of the site where owners Peel Holdings are expected to put forward an initial planning application early next year (2009).

Early ideas from the company for the redevelopment of 70 acres of land at Ellesmere Port docks suggested 7,550 new homes comprising apartments and houses.

Peel and Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council have been fine-tuning the proposed development and the latest thinking provides for more family housing, the borough's planning committee was told in a report.

The development would be a major focus for growth in the town and a key site in the approved Growth Point for West Cheshire, councillors heard.

The waterfront scheme would be the largest single housing development proposed in West Cheshire and the largest ever seen in Ellesmere Port.

Five weeks of consultations are proposed on the design brief with planning officers saying the development could transform the town and attract inward investment and employment.

They suggest there could be up to “7,000 to 8,000 homes” including landmark buildings up to 30 storeys in height with community facilities and open space.

Affordable housing would be included and a new waterfront promenade would run through the development.

Employment opportunities would also be created within the scheme.

The massive project would help the regeneration of the adjacent Westminster area of the town, say planning officers, and would improve connections between the waterfront and the town centre with a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the busy M53.

Recreational facilities would be provided not only for local residents but for the wider area.

Ellesmere Port docks would be moved towards Eastham Docks and would become Port Wirral.

Planning officers say the strengths of the development include the fact it would have a spectacular waterfront to the Ship Canal and the Mersey estuary and would provide a unique setting which could not be found elsewhere in the borough or in West Cheshire.

It would be close to the M53 and two junctions and would have railway access and would be within walking distance of the town.

The opportunities would include a new waterside community with a distinctive character enjoying sensational views across the River Mersey and along the Manchester Ship Canal.

The development would provide “a major and a unique contribution” to the West Cheshire Growth Point and a spectacular promenade for the town.

There would be job opportunities and connections with the National Waterways Museum and the historic port.

The waterside recreational route would have a link to the Shropshire Union Canal.

“Tall, high-quality landmark buildings are considered a vital part of the scheme,” suggest planning officers.

The possibility of a new railway station connecting with the Merseyrail network would be investigated.

This could provide links to Wirral, Liverpool and Chester via Hooton and possibly in the longer term to Manchester via Helsby.

The brief suggests that overall there should be a good mix of accommodation, including one bedroom, two bedroom, three bedroom and larger homes including provision for older and disabled people.

The amount of affordable housing would reflect the market at the time each part of the development was completed although the council is to require affordable homes to be included at each stage.

Community facilities could include small convenience stores, crèches, restaurants, play space, health services and education and leisure facilities.

The council believes that developers should also consider the need for places of worship and pubs.

The brief suggests that 1,500 dwellings could be built in the first phase between 2010 and 2017.

The council has drawn up a comprehensive list of organisations which should be consulted on the brief ranging from the Cheshire West and Chester shadow council and other local authorities and regional and national bodies to local community representatives, businesses and residents.

“The council expects Peel Holdings will carry out a significant amount of preliminary consultation with Westminster residents,” says the report.

Responses to the consultation are due to be considered by councillors in January 2009.