EDDIE Stobart may have won the planning battle for permission to build a New National Distribution Centre on 39 acres of Green Belt land at Appleton Thorn – but the war is set to rage on.
Those who have been campaigning against the development have been left outraged and disgusted by the decision which was voted through 8-2 by members of the planning committee earlier this week.
Objectors have already sent a letter to the new Secretary of State asking for the decision to be called in, while others are complaining that members of the committee were actively encouraged by officers to recommend approval, without proper consideration of all the objections.
I have to say I was somewhat surprised by one councillor (Brian Maher) not appearing to know the site in question when he asked if it was the old Greenall’s site! Moments later he seconded that the plan should be approved!
I was also surprised to hear Executive Director Andy Farrall urging members of the committee to approve the application after saying it was little different to the previous one which had been refused and subject to an appeal.
This following on from the council deciding not to defend the reasons for refusal on the grounds of it being premature ahead of the Local Plan and not enough special circumstances to protect the Green Belt.
Eddie Stobart has already announced they are pressing ahead with the proposal following the approval of planning permission – but if the Secretary of State decides to call it in this planning saga could drag on for quite some time.
With Langtree waiting in the wings with their planning application for an even bigger logistics hub on nearby land, this planning application will undoubtedly have a major impact on the release of Green Belt.
In reality should any of these planning applications be getting considered ahead of the Local Plan?
At Wednesday night’s Development Management Committee we heard Mr Farrall tell members that the council’s QC had advised them that being premature was not a valid reason to object to the development. But we also heard from the parish council’s planning consultant John Groves, that their QC, based at the same chambers, said being premature was a reason for refusal. They can’t both be right so surely we need a totally independent judgement by a Government appointed inspector?
That sounds like common sense to me!