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Council slammed for “backing off” from Eddie Stobart planning battle

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PARISH councils in the south of Warrington have slammed the borough council for “backing off” from the fight to stop development of a giant Eddie Stobart logistics site.
They have accused the borough of “opening the back door” to the transport firm by deciding not to appear at a hearing of the company’s appeal against the refusal of planning consent for the proposed development at Appleton Thorn.
Cllr Cliff Taylor, chairman of the South Warrington Parish Councils’ Local Plan Working Group said the group had written to the borough council criticising it for its new stance.
Stobart made its first planning application in 2017.
This went before the council’s planning committee with a recommendation from officers to approve it.
But councillors threw the proposals out – to the delight of thousands of residents.
There were two reasons for refusal – prematurity and damage to the Green Belt.
Stobarts appealed against the refusal and a hearing is expected in the autumn.
But the company has also submitted a second application, with minor changes.
Cllr Taylor said the council, for reasons best known to itself, had since withdrawn the “prematurity” reason for refusal and stated that it would not appear at the appeal hearing to defend the Green Belt reason for refusal.
Cllr Taylor said the parish councils’ group had opposed the council’s Local Plan, particularly it plans for using hundreds of acres of Green Belt for logistics facilities.
“Now we are concerned that the council’s decisions to remove one reason for refusal and leave the other undefended at the upcoming appeal looks like opening the back door to the transport firm. This is ‘Stobarts by stealth’.
“We have written to the council which is critical of its stance. On the basis of legal advice we have received, we strongly assert that the council has a perfectly good case to refuse the first application and should not now be backing away from that decision.”

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