THE controversial plan by Eddie Stobart to build a £75m National Distribution Centre on green belt land at Appleton Thorn, Warrington, has been called in by the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick has today (Thursday) called-in for his own determination a planning application by Liberty Properties Developments and Eddie Stobart Ltd for a National Distribution Centre on land known land north of Barleycastle Lane, Appleton Thorn, Warrington.
The call-in relates to the second planning application which was controversially approved by members of the planning committee last July.
In announcing the call-in the planning inspectorate said:” The Government’s policy on call in is to be very selective. It is right that in almost all cases the initial decision on whether the application should proceed should be taken by the local planning authority. In general, planning applications are only called-in if planning issues of more than local importance are involved.
“The Secretary of State has indicated, however, that there are occasions when it is right for him to decide the issue, normally following a public inquiry. In this instance, however, a public inquiry was held between 15 and 17 October 2019 in to an appeal scheme, which is identical to the application scheme which is the subject of this letter, and a report was submitted to the Secretary of State on 11 December 2019.”
The Secretary of State has now invited representations on any material change in circumstances, fact or policy, that may have arisen since the inquiry and which the parties consider to be material to the Secretary of State’s further consideration of this appeal and application.
The Full Planning application (Major) by Liberty Properties Developments Ltd & Eddie Stobart consists of demolition of all existing on-site buildings and structures and construction of a National Distribution Centre building (Use Class B8) with ancillary office accommodation (Class B1(a)), vehicle maintenance unit, vehicle washing area, internal roads, gatehouse, parking areas, perimeter fencing, waste management area, sustainable urban drainage system, landscaping, highways improvements and other associated works.
The site extends to approximately 15.7 hectares in size and is currently two undeveloped, arable fields divided by a low hedgerow running from north to south.
The site falls within the Green Belt land (as defined by the Adopted Warrington Local Plan Core Strategy) between the Warrington urban area to the west and Lymm to the east.
The original application was rejected in November 2018 – against officer advice.
Notice of appeal was lodged which was followed by more controversy in June 2019 when the borough council said it would not defend the appeal.
A second almost identical application was eventually approved by members of the planning committee in July 2019, which is subject of the call-in, following a public inquiry last October.
The Secretary of State has instructed the Council not to grant planning permission, without specific authorisation, for any development which is the same kind as that which is the subject of the application referred to on any land which forms part of, or includes, the site to which the application relates until the Secretary of State has issued his decision on this application.
Welcoming the decision to call-in the application Warrington South MP Andy Carter said: ““I welcome this decision, Ministers use this power infrequently and it demonstrates the scale and significance of the application and the impact that it could have on the surrounding area. It’s particularly important given the lack of approved local plan.
“The inquiry in October 2019 by the Planning Inspector was held to challenge the initial 2017 application which was refused by the Council. The Secretary of State has determined that because the second application which was approved by the Council is so similar to the first there is no need to hold a further inquiry.
“I want business to expand a grow here but I have been clear for some time that we need a brownfield and infrastructure first approach, utilising sites such as Fiddlers Ferry Power Station which has now closed, not the greenbelt. I would encourage local residents and businesses to make representations either through myself or directly to the Secretary of State, so that the views of people living in the area are known”.