THE controversial plan by Eddie Stobart to build a £75m National Distribution Centre on green belt land at Appleton Thorn has been rejected by the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State has supported the recommendation of a planning inspector that the appeal be dismissed and the called-in application be refused.
The Secretary of State agreed with the Inspector that the proposed development would represent a clear encroachment into the countryside and considers it would give rise to significant harm in terms of Green Belt Purpose. He also agreed with the inspector’s report stating that the emerging Local Plan carried little weight.
The Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick had called-in the application last May 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 related to the second planning application which was controversially approved by members of Warrington Borough Council’s planning committee last July.
The Full Planning application (Major) by Liberty Properties Developments Ltd & Eddie Stobart consisted 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 was subject of the call-in, following a public inquiry last October.
Welcoming the decision Warrington South MP Andy Carter said: “I’ve had confirmation this evening that the Secretary of State has refused planning permission for development of a National Distribution Centre for Eddie Stobart on the green belt near Appleton Thorn.
“I’ve received more correspondence on this matter since becoming the MP for Warrington South last year than any other issue. During the election I promised to fight the decision by local Labour Councillors to approve the plan to build across the green belt against the wishes of local people and I am very pleased to see that the Planning Inspector and Secretary of State agreed that it should not be allowed to proceed.
“The Secretary of State concluded that the benefits of the proposal before him are not sufficient to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt.
“He therefore concluded that very special circumstances required to justify granting permission for inappropriate development in the Green Belt do not exist in this case.
“I welcome this decision which demonstrates the scale and significance of the application and the impact that it would have on the surrounding area.
“While it is of course important for business to expand and grow 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.”