NANTWICH'S last remaining clothing factory could be demolished to make way for housing.
Lewing Ltd, which runs the Imperial Works factory in Millstone Lane, has applied for permission to build 41 three-storey houses on the site - leaving the workforce of 100-plus facing an uncertain future.
The company had planning permission on the site for several years.
It was renewed earlier this year, despite objections from Nantwich Town Council. Now it has been followed by a more detailed application for 41 homes.
The application was met with dismay at Monday's meeting of Nantwich Town Council.
Cllr Joyce Stockton said: 'This is very sad. No one has said for certain whether the factory is going to close but the workers are obviously facing terrible uncertainty.
'If the factory does go, it will be the end of the clothing industry in Nantwich. In fact, when I left school the Millstone Lane factory was where I had my first job.'
Cllr Arthur Moran added: 'When the factory applied for the renewal of its planning permission a few months ago, I feared that there may be something more in the pipeline. This is it.
'I sincerely hope that this is just a feeler and that the factory will not close down, because if it does there are going to be a lot of Nantwich people out of work.
'I accept that this is a brownfield site where new housing is permissible, but it is also a site where people make their livelihoods.'
Cllr Moran proposed that the town council oppose the application. He said: 'We should oppose this, at least on traffic grounds.
'Millstone Lane is an extremely busy road, and to put vehicles from 41 new homes on to the highway would obviously be adding to the existing danger.'
The council decided to oobject to the application which is likely to be heard at the next meeting of Crewe and Nantwich Borough Council's development control panel later this month.
But Cllr Fraser Carolis had a different view. He said: 'Millstone Lane is a residential area. I think the factory is an eyesore and the area would be better off used for housing. It would look a lot better.'
There was no one at the factory available for comment yesterday.
Graham Wells, local representative of the General Municipal and Boil-ermakers' union, said: 'No one from the factory has contacted me over this. But given the fact management has applied for planning permission to build 41 homes in the site, the uncertainly must be devastating.'