TOWN Hall chiefs have thrown their support behind an ambitious town centre masterplan – which includes the delivery of more than 8,000 homes.

The approval by the council’s cabinet at its meeting on Monday evening means it will have the document as its 20-year vision for the development of the area.

Senior figures say it will provide a flexible framework for growth, development and regeneration.

The masterplan includes a range of components including residential development totalling more than 8,000 homes, transport, business, culture, circular parklands, the high street and Port Warrington, which would see the delivery of a new international port-based employment area with direct links to the national rail freight network.

The Labour-run authority will work with Peel Ports to explore the opportunity for a ‘free port’ at Port Warrington.

Furthermore, the proposals set out ambitions to ‘rediscover’ the Mersey, along with proposing an ‘illuminated river’ project.

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Council leader Cllr Russ Bowden emphasised town centre development will play a significant role in helping the borough meet its housing targets set out in the emerging local plan.

The draft proposes 24,000 new homes over the next two decades.

Cllr Bowden told members it is ‘right’ for the authority to look to regenerate brownfield sites in the town centre, rather than green belt and green field land, which he reaffirmed are used as a ‘last resort’.

He said: “In particular, it (the masterplan) signals our ambition to change the nature of our town centre.

“It’s obviously a key document in terms of what it signals to potential partners and developers here in Warrington.

“It’s not a detailed planning document but it sets out the broad concepts of what we want to achieve and what we want to deliver – and that’s really key for developers so they come forward with schemes that fit our ambition for Warrington.”

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, cabinet member for housing, public health and wellbeing, added: “It is a really ambitious document – it is really great to see the different aspects of what we are trying to achieve come together.”

The masterplan, which sets out ambitions up until 2040, forms part of the Warrington Means Business economic growth programme.