ONE could be forgiven for thinking that Warrington Borough Council’s decision to approve the Draft Local Plan, releasing around 10 per cent of green belt land for housing and employment needs, was the green light for developers to put forward their plans.
Within a matter of days of the draft plan being approved, Eddie Stobart had re-submitted their controversial plan to build a brand new national distribution centre on green belt land at Appleton Thorn – previously rejected for various reasons, including being premature.
Then a few days later Langtree submitted their own planning application for another huge logistics distribution centre on neighbouring green belt land – both applications coming on the back of some limited public exhibitions and consultations.
Eddie Stobart say they have received “many” favourable response from their “consultation!”
I find this somewhat surprising, having attended their exhibition I didn’t find one supportive local resident or councillor and I’ve certainly not received any direct messages of support as the local parish councillor for the area.
While both planning applications have been submitted and indeed, Eddie Stobart’s first attempt is currently going to appeal, there is still a long way to go.
First we have eight weeks of public consultation on the Draft Local Plan, starting on April 15 and if the feedback is anything like last time, it is going to take the borough council many months to process the information and report back the findings.
And let’s be clear, just because the Borough Council has indicated areas of land in the Green Belt to be released for possible development, it still needs to have the criteria of exceptional need and meet other planning guidelines.
With the nearby M56 and Lymm Truck Stop, this is already one of the most congested road networks in the North West, with regular motorway tailbacks causing chaos on the roads of Warrington and major pollution issues in the town. I remain far from convinced these green field sites are the right place for major logistic developments.
With many more homes already on the horizon, we need to make sure our infrastructure can cope, while at the same time addressing the serious pollution issues our town is facing before we even consider huge distribution centres on precious green belt land.
We also need to ensure all existing empty warehousing sites and brownfield sites are used before ploughing up the green belt.