SEVEN years ago, councillors gave the green light for a huge new development in Wincham that would have seen the village more than double in size.

It was called the Wincham Urban Village – and by now it was expected to be halfway towards completion.

But the major project has so far failed to materialise in the way it was expected to – and now there are new, much smaller plans emerging for the land.

What was the Wincham Urban Village?

A smaller 600-home Wincham Urban Village had been discussed by Vale Royal councillors in the 2000s, but the 950-home scheme emerged in 2011 with an outline planning application sent to CWAC.

The 120-acre site was bordered by Wincham Brook to the south, New Warrington Road to the west and Chapel Street to the north.

Developers were looking to build 950 new homes on a site that was being used by a mixture of industrial businesses, farmers and Witton Albion Football Club.

It was approved in 2013 with just one planning committee member – Cllr Norman Wright, from Marbury – voting against the scheme over concerns of a lack of infrastructure for the village being provided.

In 2015 as Cheshire West and Chester Council secured agreements with the developers for £4.28 million towards new infrastructure – including £2.2 million towards improvements at Wincham Community Primary School and £1.6 million for highways.

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Wincham Community Primary School. Image: Google Maps

The project was later cut down to 850 homes, and its developers – Emery Planning, Russell Homes and Gladedale Estates – said the houses would be built over a decade.

Daniel Kershaw, director at Russell Homes, said at the time: “This is a 10-year plan and there is still much work to be done before we see a spade in the ground.

“We will be in discussion with the various different landowners about the timescale for development, and the site will require remediation prior to development.

“The next stage is to draw up detailed plans for the homes and commercial centre for the reserved matters applications, which will have to be determined before any work can begin.”

What happened to the plans?

In the last few years, different parcels of the land have been sold off by different landowners, making the huge Wincham Urban Village concept no longer a realistic proposition.

A key part of this includes expansion at Thor Chemicals, to the north of the Wincham Urban Village site.

Thor acquired the former Victoria Stadium in 2012 and went on to expand on the site over the next four years.

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The old Victoria Stadium, in Wincham. Image: Iain Lees

It then bought land from G. Cross and Sons in 2016 for further expansion, with this part of the land being in the Wincham Urban Village site.

In September 2016, Thor instructed planning consultant Euan Kellie to discuss the company’s plans for further expansion with CWAC.

A letter sent to the council as part of its consultation on the local plan said: “G.Cross & Sons advised our client that they had doubts over the eventual delivery of the Urban Village and, as a result, were keen to dispose of the land.”

There also needed to be an exclusion zone surrounding it due to hazardous materials on the site, which further restricted the potential development.

Mr Kellie added that the latest acquisition would ‘to all intents and purposes mean it will be difficult for the Wincham Urban Village to be brought forward in its current format’.

What is happening now?

Russell Homes, which was one of the developers that was due to work on the original project, has submitted a planning application for 98 houses on a 17-acre part of the site.

It is working with housing association Onward Homes on the project, which if approved will see 40 new houses built for the open market, another 40 offered for shared ownership and 18 for affordable rent.

Russell Homes says it would make a ‘sustainable, well balanced neighbourhood’ with just 40 per cent of the site being developed, and the remainder being left for green space.

Sandy Livingstone, executive director of property at Onward, said: “We are committed to bringing high quality new homes to communities where there is a need for homes that are affordable, with a mix of tenures providing people with genuine choices without having to compromise on quality or location.

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“We believe our customers should have high quality homes in places they want to live. The development proposed meets those criteria and is sustainably located with excellent connectivity and infrastructure already in place within Wincham.”

If its planning application is successful, Russell Homes hopes to start building next spring.

Meanwhile, another planning application has also been submitted to CWAC for six detached homes on part of the Wincham Urban Village site off Chapel Street, and a further scheme has been lodged for 14 industrial units on a small part of the original site off Heath Lane.

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Cllr Ian Parr, chairman of Wincham Parish Council, told the Guardian: “There are bits and pieces going on but it is not the Wincham Urban Village that was originally envisaged.

“It is not one big co-ordinated project anymore – it is individual developers doing their own bits on different parts of the land.”