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

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

Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council has released details of a five week consultation.

People living or running businesses in the immediate area of the 70 acre site will be sent a letter inviting them to give their views, but the council says all residents of Ellesmere Port are welcome to respond.

A copy of the draft brief can be found on the council’s website: and can be seen in the council’s planning department on Civic Way, at Ellesmere Port library and at the town’s Westminster neighbourhood office.

Exhibitions are to be held in the Westminster Community Centre where there will be additional information and the chance to ask planning officers questions.

These will take place from 10am to 2pm on Tuesday November 18 and from 3pm to 8pm on Monday November 24 and Wednesday November 26.

The council is also to run two 12 strong focus groups which will reflect a cross-section of the community.

People wishing to join one of the groups can contact Gemma Jones on 0151 356 6504 at the borough council.

The closing date of the consultation period will be Friday December 5.

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

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

Peel and Ellesmere Port and the 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.

Planning officers say the development could transform the town and attract inward investment and employment.

“The potential scale of development will be the largest ever seen in a single housing development in Ellesmere Port,” said Mike Worden, the borough council’s planning policy manager.

It could see 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 marvellous 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 will 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.

A planning application for the first phase is expected in January.