WARRINGTON South MP Faisal Rashid and local councillors have expressed disappointment at Eddie Stobart’s plans to press on with a new National Distribution Centre on Green Belt land opposite their existing HQ at Appleton Thorn.
Commenting on Eddie Stobart’s decision to appeal against planning refusal, while also submitting new plans, Mr Rashid fears release of the land for development could set a “worrying precedent.”
Meanwhile local councillors are also disappointed that they have not been consulted with by the logistics giant.
In a letter to Warrington Borough Council giving notice of the decision to go to appeal, Eddie Stobart Chief Executive Alex Laffey said:” I was, of course, at the meeting and whilst I am naturally very disappointed at the outcome, I respect the authority of the Committee to make the decision.
“The proposal was put forward to Committee with a full and robust recommendation from your officers and no objections from any Statutory Consultee, with whom we had been in dialogue for over a year. Our team worked exhaustively with your Officers and all consultees, to ensure this was the case.
“Nevertheless, some concerns were aired at the Committee, which going forward we will address.
“Some aspects will simply require clarification, as concerns expressed only needed further explanation. However, some of the matters will be addressed in the spirit they were put forward and acted upon.
“Warrington is now the home of our Company and we definitively do need this new facility, to strengthen and grow our existing activities in the Borough.
“To this end, I write out of courtesy to advise you that we have instructed our team to Appeal this decision, through the normal Appeal process.
“However, we think it incumbent upon us also to attempt now to work in a consensual manner, with both yourselves and your Officers, to make a fresh planning application, that can be brought to Committee in due course.
“This will enable us to not only reinforce all the development management issues that have been comprehensively worked upon and overcome, but also give us the opportunity to further evidence the credentials of our proposals to you, accepting some of the comments and observations made at Committee. We will therefore be in touch shortly, to brief you further.
“We are committed to Warrington and to growing our business in Warrington, creating over 730 jobs and in the longer term, even more. We would very much like to work with you, to effect this vision.
But Warrington South MP Faisal Rashid said: “I am disappointed to hear that Eddie Stobart have taken the decision to appeal against the refusal of planning permission on Green Belt Land at Appleton Thorn and submit a new planning application for the site.
“Locally there is opposition to these proposals due to the loss of countryside, impact on local ecology, traffic congestion, noise and air pollution. I share these concerns.
“I have real concerns about proposals which seek to earmark significant areas of the Green Belt for large scale development. And, I am concerned that the release of this land could set a worrying precedent for the future of other areas of our protected green space, opening the floodgates for further changes to our town’s Green Belt policy.
“National planning policy on development in the Green Belt is clear. This land should only be developed in the most exceptional of circumstances and it must be protected from development wherever possible. I do not believe that exceptional or very special circumstances have been demonstrated in these proposals.”
Borough Cllr Ryan Bate said: “I have only in the past few days been contacted by Stobarts, or rather by a consultant acting on their behalf. It seems this is a new initiative and as the borough councillors for the area Mike (Biggin) and I will be listening to what Stobart have to say. I am disappointed that Stobart have not sought to consult with Appleton Parish Council alongside Mike and myself.
“Given the scale of challenges surrounding the development, it will be interesting to see what Stobart and their representatives have to say.”
Appleton Parish Council Chairperson Cllr Sharon Harris said: “Parish Councils have not been contacted and as Chair of Appleton Parish Council whose residents and neighbouring residents will be profoundly affected by such a big operation in and around Appleton Thorn, I find this disturbing and somewhat disrespectful.”
A spokesperson for Eddie Stobart added:” We remain committed to growing our business in Warrington, bringing jobs and investment, along with improvements to local roads and transport.”
“We have taken a long, hard look at the comments and concerns raised when the previous planning application was turned-down by councillors. Over the coming weeks we will be consulting fully with local councillors and residents before submitting a new planning application for the National Distribution Centre.”