A £58 million highway scheme planned to tackle congestion and accelerate 'economic growth' in Middlewich has edged a step closer.

The Middlewich eastern bypass project has moved into its next phase – which paves the way for a planning application to be submitted – following approval from Cheshire East Council's cabinet on Tuesday.

Almost 2,000 new homes and 6,500 new jobs are also expected to be created following construction of the highway.

Frank Jordan, executive director for place, will now prepare a planning application and commence the process for acquiring the land to build the road, prior to starting the procurement process for a contractor.

He will then obtain the final confirmation of funding.

The project has been priced at just over £58 million, with £46.78 million anticipated via a Department for Transport grant and £11.7 million from developer contributions and council funding.

A 'comprehensive' report, including feedback from the consultation, has been prepared to support both the planning application and full business case to Government.

Cllr Don Stockton, cabinet member for environment, highlighted the need for the area 'to enter the next decade with a highways network to be proud of'.

And during Tuesday's meeting he hailed the authority for its approach to the Middlewich eastern bypass project.

He said: "The council took control of the delivery of the bypass in 2015 and an intense programme of works has been under way since that time.

"Without the council's intervention in 2015, the scheme would not have progressed.

"The scheme has been on the drawing board for many years and our involvement in recent years has driven the scheme forward to the point it is at now.

"This represents a major achievement and is further evidence of our commitment to investment and infrastructure that will support economic growth."

Council leader Cllr Rachel Bailey echoed his views and praised officers for their efforts.

She said: "I would like to put on record a thanks to our very busy highways team.

"It would be remiss of us not to recognise that work by our officers."

The authority has progressed a wide range of ‘technical work’ to prepare for submission of a planning application.

It includes detailed designs, environmental surveys, impact assessments, proposed mitigation plans, production of a transport assessment and engagement with landowners.

But Cllr Bailey admitted having a timeline for the delivery of the bypass is ‘difficult’, due to it being subject to planning and budgetary approval.

Cheshire East is also moving to the next stage in its preparations for two other major schemes aimed at easing congestion misery on the borough's highway network – the Congleton link road and the dualling of the A500 between junction 16 of the M6 and the outskirts of Crewe.

All three projects are expected to be delivered over the next three to four years.

The dualling scheme is also still subject to the necessary planning approvals.