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.”