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“Call in” challenge for controversial homes plans

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THE controversial decision to approve plans for 770 new homes on land at Grappenhall Heys and Appleton Cross is being challenged by five borough councillors – supported by Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council.

Liberal Democrat councillors Mike Biggin and Ryan Bate have initiated a “call in” of the decision by the borough council’s development management committee.
This would mean the decision must be referred to the council’s scrutiny committee, which, while it does not have the power to overturn the decision, can refer the matter back for further consideration

Cllr Biggin and Cllr Bate decided to call in the decision on the grounds of injustice and a lack of consideration of the infrastructure issues – in particular the inadequacies of the local highway network.

They say there is no evidence that the applicant – the Homes and Community Agency (HCA) – has given adequate consideration to the highways and infrastructure issues.
There were numerous objections to the proposals on these grounds when they were considered by the development management committee. But the committee voted 6-3 to allow the development to go ahead.

Ironically the meeting had to be delayed 15 minutes because many objectors could not get there on time because of traffic delays caused by Stockton Heath Swing Bridge breaking down.
The outline planning application was for 400 properties at Grappenhall Heys and 370 at Appleton Cross and was recommended for approval by planning officers.

But the proposals were opposed by Appleton Parish Council, Grappenhall and Thelwall Parish Council, Stockton Heath Parish Council and Lymm Parish Council, as well as by Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid.

After the meeting, the MP said: “I have real concerns about the impact these developments could have on south Warrington. I do not believe that the council or the HCA have shown these applications to be ‘sustainable’. The opposite is true; these two developments are not sustainable.

“My main concern about the applications concerned the additional pressure that building this number of homes will have on roads in south Warrington.  Council leader Terry O’Neill has publicly said that large scale developments will not be brought forward unless the infrastructure is in place to cope with the added traffic demands. But there are no plans to tackle the additional road infrastructure pressures that these applications will add to our roads in south Warrington.

“At peak times, local roads can barely cope with existing pressure, and as we have seen it only takes an incident such as that with the swing bridge to bring the town’s road network to a standstill. Putting additional traffic on these roads will make them gridlocked, which means more traffic misery. Warrington residents deserve better.

“I will be meeting Cllr O’Neill to press for action and calling on the Government to ensure that the HCA responds to these concerns. I will also be meeting representatives from Peel Ports to discuss the action they can take to help tackle these issues.”

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  1. The only Call-in available is to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government not the council scrutiny committee. To get a successful call-in would require demonstrating that the Council failed to act in accordance with the Local Plan Core Strategy and that in doing so it raised issues which are significant on a nations basis, or will affect other local places, and not just on a local level. These are the so called Caborn ( after Richard Caborn) criteria given by Nick Boles in a written answer to the House of Commons. Also worth remembering that if it were called in the Secretary of State would have a conflict of interest as the Minister responsible for the department making that application! If the HCA choose to progress without the council they would ask for detailed permission from that very same Secretary of State after he had turned it down following the enormous expense of a public enquiry and a recommendation to quash the decision.
    It is just not in the public interest (in the widest sense) so it seems very likely that there will be no call in.

    • My understanding is it has to go through scrutiny first before the secretary of state – so based on the make up of the council and the way the planning committee voted, it is a bit of a long shot – but you can’t fault local councillors for trying their best to represent their constituents.

      • That is not the case I am afraid. The development control exercises the delegated function of the council as the Local Planning Authority. A request to call-in an application to the secretary of state for communities and local government is made before a decision has been taken by the LPA and not afterwards. I believe the Health scrutiny committee can make a request to the secretary of state for health after a decision is taken but that is not the same in planning.

        • Just in case you spot what looks like an inconsistency – For the purposes of SoS Call-In of a planning application the moment that a decision is actually made is when the Decision Notice is actually sent to the applicant. A request for intervention can be made between the close of the meeting and the sending of the decision notice.

    • The call-in here seems to be a local affair, by the Council Scrutiny Committee. Quite what they hope to achieve is puzzling. Turkeys voting for Christmas?

  2. Even now, during the evening rush hour period, the A49 tails back from the Cat and Lion pub lights to the M56 junction causing congestion on the east bound slip road most evenings. I would ask the question as to whether there has been any study carried out to determine the impact of an additional 770 houses in the area on this already extremely busy road.

    • The Development Control Manager (surely an oxymoron of a title within the remit of WBC?) indicated quite clearly that he and the Specialist? from HCA considered there would be little or no impact of the 770 houses on the local infrastructure.

  3. I agree with all the comments about the extra 770 houses proposed for south Warrington. Not only will the roads not cope but a large amount of wildlife will be destroyed in the green belt area. I would rather have the wildlife and the countryside than a concrete jungle.

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