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Opposition mounts to Green Belt distribution centre plan

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PARISH councils and local residents are voicing their opposition to any plans to allow a major distribution centre the size of 45 rugby pitches on green belt land in the south of the borough.

A request for an environmental impact assessment scoping opinion in relation to the proposed development involving 325,150m2 of employment floorspace on the land – adjacent to junction 20 of the M6 and junction 9 of the M56 at Lymm has been lodged with Warrington borough council.

Agents Spawforths, on behalf of Langtree Property Partners and First Panattoni, are drawing up plans to submit an outline planning application for the development of the site which is the equivalent size of 45 rugby pitches.

The site, bounded by Grappenhall Lane and Cliff Lane to the north and the motorway slip road to the east, also boasts an ancient monument, a farm and six residential properties which are now under threat.

Warrington council’s local plan preferred development option (PDO) has earmarked the area, which is currently Green Belt, as future employment land as an extension of the Barleycastle Trading Estate.

A Scoping Opinion seeks the authority’s formal view on what issues an Environmental Statement should contain in the event of a planning application.

Local resident Bill Roberts, who has been campaigning against development on green belt land in the area, local residents and local parish councils have all voiced their opposition.

“This is designated green belt, includes an ancient woodland and ancient monument and moat with a public right of way,” said Mr Roberts.

“It is hardcore do not touch land and this is the first speculative step towards a planning application.

“Enough is enough. We need to stand together for the sake of ourselves and our children and protect this green belt which provides a buffer between Grappenhall and the motorway.

“Before we know it we will have another Omega development!”

Grappenhall & Thelwall Parish Council has also voiced major concerns saying the request for an EIA Scoping Opinion is extremely premature.

They say the land has not yet been confirmed or disregarded as employment land and will not be until at least Autumn 2018.

In a letter to Warrington Borough Council’s Principal Planning Officer Michael Davies they say: “We are aware that the land was put forward as a ‘possible’ site for B8 employment land in the PDO, but the fact that there was unprecedented and massive local opposition to the PDO consultation (4000-6000 consultee responses), on the grounds of inappropriate loss of Green Belt and lack of proposed infrastructure (including traffic improvements/upgrade), then even carrying out an EIA at this stage is wholly inappropriate and far too early. The PDO was put out as a ‘consultation’ and should not be taken as a ‘given’.

“The Parish Council originally objected to the PDO consultation on grounds that the need for new homes and employment land (partly on Green Belt) is based on over-optimistic projections. There are no ‘exceptional circumstances’demonstrated to justify that Green Belt land needs to be utilised. Also, the concept of a ‘New City’ has no demonstrable public support and is not based on any feasibility or viability work that might suggest this option is deliverable.

“Any subsequent submission of an outline planning for this site (either before or after the release of the revised PDO/Local Plan) will be met with opposition from the Parish Council. It is our firm belief that development should not take place on Green Belt land, as no ‘exceptional circumstances’ are demonstrated.”

In a similar letter Appleton Parish Council has voiced the following concerns.

“The opinion of the Parish Council that any proposal for any planning application on this land would be unacceptable. The land is greenbelt and therefore should be protected from any development of any kind. The land is of high landscape value and is valuable greenbelt. Bradley Hall is a site of historic value and this and the surrounding fields must be protected from any sort of development due to environmental and ecology reasons.

“The Parish Council also feel that the development of this land is not acceptable due to the traffic implications. Any additional industrial/distribution hub will be entirely dependent upon Heavy Good Vehicles. The existing local roads and motorways junctions could not cope with any additional traffic.

“The Parish Council are increasingly concerned with the amount of litter around the Appleton Thorn trading estate and any future development would just increase litter issues around the area. The Parish Council have major concerns regarding additional pollution problems and as such, any development of this land is not acceptable.”

Meanwhile all the South Warrington Parish Councils are working together the employ a Planning Consultant in readiness to respond to the revised Local Plan (due for issue Autumn 2018).

This same working group are currently working on a joint response to the Request for EIA Scoping Opinion.

To see the full planning document CLICK HERE

Local resident Bill Roberts in the heart of the land under threat

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Experienced journalist for more than 35 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with six in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

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