THE long-running planning battle over developing Peel Hall with 1,200 new homes and associated developments is set to drag on into next year.
The controversial Public Inquiry into the future of Peel Hall, claimed as the last natural green space in the area, reopened on Monday, facing strong debate over whether further VISSIM traffic modeling assessments should be accepted that would inevitably drag proceedings into 2021.
Before Inspector Christina Downes could open the hearing, main parties had been privy to information that part of landowner, Satnam Millennium Ltd.’s modeling assessment was flawed and needed to be recalibrated.
Save Peel Hall Campaign Group’s Rule 6 Party defended the right to continue with submitted material but it was agreed that Satnam would be given another opportunity to resubmit assessments, but face a ‘backstop’ timeframe when no the further submissions would be allowed to enter into the process.
Campaigner Jim Sullivan reflected Rule 6 members’ feelings in a letter to the Planning Inspectorate. He pointed out that whilst there was a need to resolve the issue, he believed the situation was ‘very different’ from previous understandings. “It is not merely a question of misaligned data outputs, but rather a data modeling exercise which is not yet complete, and that may require at least one further run before it generates credible results”. But he added that the VISSIM data model may require more than one additional run.
In his letter he added that it would not be a ‘fair and a just process’ to accept evidence – whether modeling evidence or proposed mitigations – which post-dates the agreed main party submissions. He added: “We would respectfully suggest that the appeal hearing deadlines have already provided a well-defined series of backstop dates. The uncomfortable reality is that these have not been met by the appellant (Satnam).”
Wendy Johnson-Taylor explained that the Rule 6 Party fully understood the constraints under which inquiry inspector Christina Downes was restricted to move within and that campaigners welcomed her commitment to stick to imposed deadlines, but it now means that only part of the proceedings will be heard this year. She said: “The Inspector has agreed to hear parts of the inquiry now but will unfortunately have to adjourn, maybe next week, until next year, spring 2021, when we hope to have received and fully digested all the new transport/highways material Satnam choose to submit”.
The inquiry has already heard this week various topics covering climate change, ecology, green belt, amenity space, hydrology, and flood risk. The rest of the week will concentrate on noise pollution (Thursday today) and Friday will feature a ‘Residents’ Day’ where locals have been encouraged to speak about their fears and concerns. The inquiry is expected to resume again on Monday, September 21st to discuss other issues that will include impact on air quality before the adjournment.
Meanwhile, Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols called on the Planning Inspector to reject the Peel Hall proposals.
Charlotte put protecting Peel Hall at the heart of her election campaign in December 2019 and has remained totally committed in her efforts to preserve this vital area of green open space ever since.
She told the inquiry: “I have already placed on record my detailed objections to Satnam’s proposals and given my full backing to my constituents in their heroic efforts to keep Peel Hall as green open space.
“For over 30 years Satnam has been seeking planning permission to change the Peel Hall site from a publicly accessible greenfield site to a high-density housing estate and associated development.”
“The land at Peel Hall is a much-loved green open space located in an otherwise densely populated part of Warrington. It offers our area many benefits – for the local environment and for health and wellbeing. Like many local people, I do not want to see this local ‘green lung’ consumed for development.
“I am here today to I urge you in the strongest terms, not to reward Satnam for their persistence. Make no mistake, these development proposals will have a hugely adverse impact on our local area.”
A full copy of Charlotte’s speech can be found at: https://charlottenicholsmp.com/charlottes-speech-to-peel-hall-planning-inquiry