CAMPAIGNERS claim revised traffic plans for the controversial Peel Hall housing development will “cripple” the North Warrington road network.
The Save Peel Hall campaigners have slammed numerous “tweaks” made to the planning application which threatens the last natural green space left in North Warrington, as a “calamity” for motorists.
They are “furious” following the recent release of amendments to the controversial planning application submitted by landowner Satnam Millennium Ltd. The proposal officially described as a “new mixed-use neighbourhood” is now awaiting a Planning Inspectorate Appeal on April 23rd. It will take place at the Orford Jubilee Hub at 1pm.
The original application for 1,200 new homes, was unanimously refused by planning chiefs last February, due to lack of highways information. Satnam’s appeal against the council’s decision was granted by the Inspectorate six months later.
Since then the Government body is allowing “additional information” into the appeal and discussions have taken place between the landowner and council planners. The campaign group say that this new information is almost “tantamount” to a new planning application.
“Campaigners are calling for anything other than what was originally submitted, to be thrown out of the hearing.” Said campaigner Geoff Settle, a former councillor and planning committee member.
He added, “I know this does not appear to be how planning applications are meant to work, but we are in the hands of the Inspector and we have to fight on technical issues”.
“Satnam has been able to walk away from a council meeting with all the grounds for refusal and use this information as a basis for tweaking its plan, the devil is in the detail, so they say and I’m hoping the council’s QC is up to the mark,” added Geoff.
Campaigner Wendy Johnson-Taylor added: “Satnam had initially been required to submit its highways information to meet a mutually agreed date, but it failed to do so. WBC then extended that deadline for five weeks and then for a further two weeks. Satnam failed to meet any of these deadlines. We believe Satnam was given ample opportunity to provide the necessary information, yet the Inspectorate has allowed Satnam more time to put numerous amendments on the appeal table? This has given Satnam months to amend its original plan”
The group now say that the revised plan includes opening up Poplars Avenue by “punching through” Cotswold Road onto the A49 which will be furnished with a traffic light system. Campaigners say this offers no solution to an already critically overloaded road network.
The plan now features a “through route” from the A49 across the development and emerging at Mill Lane in Houghton Green, at the expense of losing the community playing fields on Ballater Drive .
Cars from over 1,000 new houses will feed out from only three inadequate access points resulting in more misery for drivers in Orford, Winwick and Fearnhead, impacting across the wards of Poplars and Hulme and Poulton North, in fact the whole of North Warrington, warned campaigner Jim Sullivan.
He added: “This through route will serve as a gateway for hundreds of vehicles trying to escape the congestion on the M62 and the A49. Both ends will be gridlocked.”
“The bottom end of Poplars has been blocked off for years and we can only think that this was done for public safety. It was closed off for good reason, it’s far too close to the M62 roundabout and now Satnam thinks this is a plausible solution to a dreadful planning nightmare.”
Another campaigner Jon Parr said. “Winwick Road just won’t stand up to this amount of traffic and even worse when you factor in the 100 heavy vehicles that are planned to use the new Waste Transfer Depot further down”.
The group fears that the access points either side of the development will create dangerous “daily rat runs” throughout the locality. It claims drivers will “scramble” across North Warrington to escape congestion which will be exacerbated by a development predicted to generate more than 2,400 vehicles. “We are hoping the council’s Highways Department will give nothing but serious consideration to these proposals which we believe will pose a risk to public safety.” Said Jon.
Jon added: “The whole development remains unsustainable and will spell nothing short of disaster for North Warrington. We are hoping our council will vigorously fight our corner at the appeal and that the Planning Inspector reflects all our deep concerns in his judgement.”
Helen Jones MP, who has been supporting locla residents in their campaign, said: “I have supported local people in their opposition to development on this site for years, as our local Labour borough and parish councillors, and I will do so again.”
“Overwhelmingly, people in the area oppose development at Peel Hall. The thousands of signatures on petitions over the years makes very clear what local people think. Satnam refuses to listen to their wishes. We have fought off development in the past, but we knew that future battles would come along. That time has come and we must act again. I hope the council will continue to robustly defend local people against developers as they have done in the past.”
The Save Peel Hall Campaign Group will be staging its biggest community event yet in the form of a “pre-appeal rally” at Cinnamon Brow Farm Club on Sunday March 25th at 2pm.
Campaigners are urging residents to attend in what they hope will be a “massive show of strength” before the hearing. The final decision on the future of Peel Hall will be made by the Secretary of State.