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“No big surprise” as controversial motorway service station approved on Green Belt land

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CONTROVERSIAL proposals for a new motorway service station on Green Belt land next to the M62 near Birchwood, Warrington, have been approved on appeal by a government planning inspector.

The decision comes as “no big surprise” to local Cllrs. who opposed the application which includes a 100-bed hotel, fuel filling station, electric charging station and facilities building put forward by Extra MSA, after Warrington Borough Council decided not to defend a planning committee decision to refuse the application.

The approval comes with a lengthy list of conditions including checking for Greater Crested Newts and badger sets in the area.

Councillor Wendy Maisey OBE, Culcheth Glazebury Croft who had previously described her feeling of ‘utter dismay’ at the Council’s decision not to defend the appeal said: “Warrington Borough Councils DMC’s decision in February this year was obviously a huge disappointment so today’s decision comes as no big surprise really. I spoke passionately at February’s meeting and encouraged all the members to defend the appeal but to no avail.

“Bit by bit we are losing the battle to protect the greenbelt in our villages. This is really sad day for the ward I represent and comes on top of up to 500 houses being forced upon us on greenbelt in Culcheth and 80 in Croft. Never a truer word been more relevant than today about the greenbelt… ‘Once it’s gone it’s gone’ ”

Cllr Maisey said in June 2021 when the development was initially turned down by the DMC that ‘it was a victory for common sense.’

Meanwhile Croft Parish Cllr Norman Partington said:”Croft Parish Council has fought long and hard against this proposal, which it believes will be a significant imposition, only benefitting passing motorway travellers at the expense of the local community. The targeted area is enjoyed by many of the local population for its beauty and for walks around Silver Lane Lakes and the close-by ‘Risley Landfill Site’. This will all now be threatened by this major development, which includes a 100 bedroom hotel.

“Warrington Borough Council rejected the planning application put forward for this in June 2021. But after the appeal was lodged by the MSA Group, the Council decided that they would make no case against it when the appeal was heard in March. This was a huge disappointment.

“The appeal decision itself admits: ‘As inappropriate development in the Green Belt, the proposal is by definition harmful, there would be significant harm to the openness, albeit it would be localised and limited harm to the purpose of safeguarding the countryside from encroachment.’ In addition to this, we have the likely advent of the HS2 line coming through close by.

“Local people have a right to wonder why one distant government planning inspector with no democratic accountability can lay waste to our local environment when the democratic processes locally have rejected this despoilation.

The development proposed is for the erection of a Motorway Service Area including facilities building, up to 100 bedroom hotel, service yard, fuel filling station, electric charging station, parking facilities, landscaping and amenity areas and associated infrastructure and earthworks.

In his report, Inspector George Baird said: “On the positive side, the MSA would provide investment and jobs and achieve social benefits. These economic and social, and environmental benefits, taken together, attract substantial weight.
The proposal would meet a longstanding identified need for a MSA within sections of the SRN, provide for the safety and welfare of motorists, there are no sequentially preferable Green Belt sites or non-Green Belt sites available, and NH supports the development. Case law establishes great or considerable weight should be accorded to this support and that cogent and compelling are required to depart from that support. The provision of MSAs and the achievement of the objectives set out in Annex B of Circular 02/2013 relies on investment by the private sector.

“Here, there is nothing to suggest that appeal scheme would not be delivered and as such would meet the clear demonstrable need for an MSA on this part of the motorway network and as such attracts considerable weight. Accordingly, taking the case as a whole, the other considerations clearly outweigh the harm identified and very special circumstances exist which justify the development.”

A full copy of the Inspector’s decision can be seen CLICK HERE

Utter dismay at ‘behind closed doors’ decision not to contest motorway service station plan


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Experienced journalist for more than 40 years. Managing Director of magazine publishing group with three in-house titles and on-line daily newspaper for Warrington. Experienced writer, photographer, PR consultant and media expert having written for local, regional and national newspapers. Specialties: PR, media, social networking, photographer, networking, advertising, sales, media crisis management. Director Warrington Chamber of Commerce Patron Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Foundation for Peace. Trustee Warrington Disability Partnership. Former Chairman of Warrington Town FC.

1 Comment

  1. What happens when badger setts are found and newts? I can guess! They are going to build anyway regardless of the environmental concerns. There is too much money involved as usual money comes above all other considerations. The next minute they will start talking about how we are ruining the environment, WE, being us of course! and they will come up with schemes that will cost the taxpayer even more money. Oh, what am I talking about. They already have!

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