PART of a factory on the outskirts of Knutsford could be demolished to make way for new shops and 77 houses.

Ilford Imaging UK have unveiled plans to create a mini village in Mobberley and said it could create 160 jobs at the firm.

On Monday head of engineering Simon Jones said the move would secure the company's future and lead to expansion.


"It means quite a bit to us because whatever money comes in will be reinvested in the business," he said.

If approved, the development in Town Lane would be one of the biggest in the Knutsford area for 20 years.

It includes shops, offices, workshops, 77 houses - 18 of which would be affordable homes - and an apartment block.

Cash made from the deal will be spent modernising the firm, which has seen nearly 400 jobs axed since 1997. But it still remains one of the area's biggest employers with 720 full and part-time staff.

Ilford bosses said they needed to produce more of their digital inkjet range after a slump in sales of black and white photographic paper.

"It is important that the proceeds of any disposals are both maximised and received as early as possible," bosses wrote in a report to Macclesfield Borough Council.

Ilford have promised villagers that they will benefit too.

Company bosses have been in talks with Mobberley Parish Council and the borough council for more than a year about what they want.

Part of the retained Rajar building will be transformed into a parish office and committee room with space for 16 councillors and 12 residents.

The proposal also includes a room to store parish records, run a health clinic and hold police surgeries.

Children will also have a new village green and play area.

It is believed the plan was produced after councillors opposed plans for a supermarket and warehouses on the site.

On Monday Frank Williamson, chairman of Mobberley Parish Council, said his colleagues had tried to do what was best for the village.

"We have had the welfare of the village at heart when discussing this," he said.

"There is concern from people who feel Mobberley as it was has long gone, but that applies to other areas and is inevitable."

Macclesfield Borough Council is expected to discuss the plan in February.

What do you think? Let us know by calling 01565 751114 or write to the Knutsford Guardian, Council Offices, Toft Road, Knutsford, WA16 6TA.