Residents' Anger at Council Land Deal

October 17, 2018 11:56 PM
By Cllr Bob Barr & Cllr Ian Marks

Residents in South Warrington are angry at Warrington Council's decision to buy Eddie Stobart's distribution headquarters at Appleton.

The site is next to the M56 and the decision was approved at a recent meeting of the Council's Executive Board.

Leader of the Warrington Council Liberal Democrats Cllr Bob Barr says, "We understand that the Executive Board has to be innovative and find ways of raising income to compensate for government austerity. We also understand we have to work with developers to generate investment in our town. What we don't understand, is the timing of this deal and the lack of any meaningful consultation with residents, borough councillors and parish councillors.

Right now there is a planning application for an extension to the Stobart's site in the Green Belt. Yet the Council is buying Stobart's current site. No wonder residents are up in arms and have all sorts of suspicions about what is going on. The timing is appalling. Ropemaker Properties bought this land from Stobarts back in 2013 for £16m in a sale and leaseback deal. Five years later the Council has bought the same site for £26m. People cannot understand how the value has increased by £10m in just five years.

At the same time the development company, Langtree, is consulting with the public over a separate proposal for a massive National Distribution Centre, called Six56, next to Junction 20 on the M6. Senior councillors and officers sit on the Board of a company called Wire Regeneration alongside Langtree to drive regeneration and development in Warrington. No wonder people are angry about what is going on and see conflicts of interest. The council must be more open and transparent about their actions, their timing and have more appreciation about perception by the public."

Cllr Ian Marks who is Deputy Chairman of the South Warrington Parish Councils' Local Plan Working Group adds, "Public anger is compounded because the two proposals are going through the planning process in advance of the publication of Warrington Council's Local Plan. This is due in December and should go out to public consultation early in the New Year. It is premature for these two massive proposals which are both on the Green Belt, to be considered now. They have huge implications for the south of the town in terms of destroying green fields and generating traffic. We are asking the Council to delay determining these applications. We also have little confidence that any local decision will not be over-written by Westminster."