UPDATED: IN a major u-turn Warrington Borough Council has been instructed not to grant planning permission for the controversial Six56 logistics development on Green Belt land at Appleton Thorn – without specific authorisation from the Secretary of State.
The Secretary of State has written to the council exercising his powers Under Article 31 of the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.
The direction has been issued to enable the Secretary of State to consider whether he should have the application referred to him for determination.
Warrington Borough Council is still investigating a formal complaint over the controversial Six56 planning application approval, which had previously been given the green light by the Secretary of State. The council is now seeking clarity on how this latest letter corresponds with a previous one saying it was not being called in.
The u-turn has been welcomed by Warrington South MP Andy Carter who said: “Having raised the matter at Prime Minister’s Questions, I welcome this move by the Secretary of State.
“I’ve asked Ministers to review the decision taken by the Planning Inspectorate given the level of local concern raised and the fact that the land sits in the green belt.
The size of this development is far greater than others which have been referred to a public inquiry and given the wider impact on local roads and strategic infrastructure there should be a full inquiry to determine an outcome.“
Mr Carter had previously been left bitterly disappointed by the previous decision not to call in the application and held urgent meetings with ministers.
Liberal Democrat Councillor Ian Marks has also welcomed the news saying “We welcome this decision by the Government. This is an area of Green Belt and we strongly believe the Labour Council was wrong to approve the planning application for this vast logistics site prior to the Local Plan being agreed. It was premature and greatly angered a large number of local residents whose objections were ignored. They were just as angry with the Conservative government for ignoring the request for the application to be determined nationally. There is precedent for other major local logistics sites to be determined nationally because they are of regional importance.
“The Eddie Stobart proposal was turned down on appeal so we wanted this to be considered in the same way and hopefully turned down as well. There is no rail access to this site and the low skilled jobs created there would steadily disappear with increased automation. We await the government’s revised verdict and trust they will reverse their original published decision not to become involved, once they have carried out a proper review.”
The application by Langtree PP & Panattoni is on Green Belt to the west of Junction 20 of the M6 Motorway, and Junction 9 of the M56 Motorway and to the south of, Grappenhall Lane/Cliff Lane (known as Six:56 Warrington) Grappenhall, Warrington, seeks Outline Planning (Major) ‐ Outline application (all matters reserved except for access) comprising the construction of up to 287,909m² (gross internal) of employment floorspace (Use Class B8 and ancillary B1(a) offices), demolition of existing agricultural outbuildings and associated servicing and infrastructure including car parking and vehicle and pedestrian circulation, alteration of existing access road into site including works to the M6 J20 dumbbell roundabouts and realignment of the existing A50 junction, noise mitigation, earthworks to create development platforms and bunds, landscaping including buffers, creation of drainage features, electrical substation, pumping station, and ecological works, accompanied by an Environmental Statement.
When the application was approved by local planners the Group Executive of Langree, John Downes, pledged to support the local supply chain. As well as creating 4,100 new jobs the development would add more than £7m pa in new rateable income.
Commenting on the Secretary of State’s decision, Mr Downes said: “We have been made aware by Warrington council of a letter to them from the Secretary of State and understand this has suspended any further activity on issuing the planning permission.
“Six56 is a sound proposition based on evidence of demand and location within the borough and we remain totally committed to the scheme. It represents an excellent opportunity to help meet the government’s levelling-up agenda as well as allowing us to engage with Warrington’s local supply chain to multiply the value of our investment. We will now take advice and keenly await further guidance from the Secretary of State.”
A council spokesperson said: “We have received and acknowledge this letter. We await direction on how this letter corresponds with a previous letter from the Secretary of State which details the decision not to call in the application.
“This previous letter further highlights the importance of decisions being determined by local planning authorities. We will therefore seek clarity on the matter as soon as possible.”