A CORRIDOR of opportunity linking Crewe to Macclesfield would turn the borough into ‘a metropolis like Essex’, according to a Cheshire East councillor.

A submission version of the authority’s Local Plan was approved by members of the strategic planning board last Wednesday.

However, Clr Brendan Murphy, who grew up in Essex, believes the Local Plan is ‘fundamentally flawed’ for suggesting economic growth can be fuelled by linking the two principal towns via Congleton.

“The focus is on linking Crewe and Macclesfield by using Congleton as a corridor of opportunity, but the two communities have always had different orientations,” said the leader of the independent group.

“Macclesfield and Knutsford look to metropolitan Manchester and Crewe looks towards the Potteries – a metropolis of a county is not what the people of Cheshire East want for the county.

“In 1974 it was suggested Wilmslow and Knutsford should be taken into Greater Manchester and this was met with great resistance.

“If we really want to witness growth based on housing we only need to go to Essex; it’s one long urban sprawl. Cheshire is not Essex.”

The authority’s Local Plan proposes 27,000 houses to be built in Cheshire East in a phased approach before 2030, while also aiming to create 15,000 new jobs.

Clr Derek Hough added: “This does not mean each of the smaller developments will have their own urban sprawl, this is the balance we are going to have to make.”

However, Clr Murphy believes his Macclesfield and Tytherington ward is taking a hit and criticised closing Green Belt land between Cheshire East and Stockport in a North Cheshire Growth Village at Handforth East.

He added: “We are proud to be part of Cheshire East, but we have taken the brunt of the housing development.”

The council’s legal advisers moved quickly to quash suggestions from a public speaker that leader Michael Jones was going to ‘cash in on Handforth’s Green Belt land’.

A council lawyer said: “I want to place on record the leader is taking no part in this meeting and has not had an influence on the meeting.”