TATA Chemicals Europe has started to explore the prospect of building 1,200 homes on redundant land at Winnington Works.

The land was made available following the closure of the soda ash plant in 2014 and was identified for redevelopment in Cheshire West and Chester Council’s Local Plan Part Two, adopted July 2019, and in the Northwich Neighbourhood Plan, adopted June 2018.

These plans propose the potential for around 1,200 new homes on the works, alongside the creation of public open spaces, leisure and community facilities and commercial activities.

And investigations into the feasibility of this potential has now begun, with Tata working in partnership with Gladman Developments.

Demolition of the former soda ash works began in January last year, and will soon include the levelling of the 150ft high kilns and the site’s remaining industrial associated buildings.

At this stage, Tata has started to engage with statutory stakeholders such as Cheshire West and Chester Council, the Environment Agency, Natural England, Historic England and local Town and Parish councils for their input.

This is to identify concerns relating to highways, health and education provision, air quality, noise and the environment, which are to be considered in redevelopment options.

If the plans are taken to the next stage, there will be a period of consultation with the local community, where the public will be able to have their say in shaping proposals in advance of any planning application being made.

Northwich Guardian:

Phase one (green) and phase two (pink) of plans to demolish the site

Commenting on the redevelopment explorations and demolition activity, Tata Chemicals Europe director Phil Davies said: “We are working in collaboration with the local authority and other statutory stakeholders to develop outline ideas for the sustainable redevelopment of large parts of the former Winnington Works site.

“Collaboration with and feedback from these stakeholders is helping our team to address concerns and shape any plans we bring forward.

“When the soda ash works closed in 2014, we started on a successful and continuing pathway to transform our business.

“This potential redevelopment supports that and would also transform the disused areas into an attractive, sustainable area with amenities for the wider Winnington community.

“With large tracts of the Winnington Works site now not in use, considering how it can be redeveloped to become part of the local community again is an important milestone for the area.

“With many of the old industrial buildings now disused and a section of the land no longer required for our operations, if the proposal to redevelop the land becomes a reality, then remaining buildings will be removed and the land remediated to a level required for residential re-development.

“Without redevelopment, the site excluding our ongoing operations is likely to remain disused like the Wallerscote site that was derelict for 30 years.”

Production of soda ash at the Winnington Works site started in 1874 and resulted in the growth of a network of chemical production facilities in the area.

Tata add that manufacturing remains firmly at the heart of future plans at Winnington, with sodium bicarbonate production alongside heat and energy generation being a core pillar of its operations.

The business continues to invest heavily in long-term future chemical production at both of its Northwich sites including Lostock.

Tata announced in June 2019 that its Winnington site will have a £16.7m carbon capture plant by 2021 - a milestone for the evolution of the site and the UK’s first plant of this scale.