Lib Dems angry at Six56 decision
The government has confirmed that the Secretary of State will not call in the decision by Warrington Borough Council's Development Management Committee to approve the massive Six56 warehouse development at Appleton Thorn and the junction of the M6 and M56 motorways.
They say that this should be a local planning decision.
Warrington Borough Council Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Bob Barr says: There were many options for this site. Most local residents would have preferred it to have been retained in the Green Belt. If it had to be developed, a green science park would have been more appropriate, or it could have been used for some of the housing required in the area. This would have been less harmful than most of the sites proposed in the South East Warrington Urban Extension.
However, the site has strategic importance because of its location near the junction of the two motorways. Both the government and the developers want it to be used for logistics. It will not benefit Warrington but supports the regional economy. Such a decision should have been taken by the government.
If the government had wanted to stop this development, to help their local Conservatives keep their promise to not build in the Green Belt, they could have done so. They did when Stobart's applied for permission for a nearby warehouse in the Green Belt.
Now they are comfortable to lay the blame on the Labour Council. Members of the Development Management Committee have an obligation to make up their own minds and not take instructions from their party. However, when the Council Leader, Russ Bowden, stood in on the committee as a substitute for a member who was absent and spoke in favour of deciding the application locally, all the Labour members backed him. All opposition members opposed the decision.
Had the decision been to turn down the application, there would have been an appeal that would have been judged by the National Planning Inspectorate and the decision would have been taken nationally not locally. We believe that would have been much more appropriate for this controversial development. As it stands, the Labour Council has worked with the Conservative government to impose an unwanted and inappropriate development on Warrington's Green Belt.
Planning Spokesperson Cllr Ryan Bate adds: We're hugely disappointed with Michael Gove's decision not to call Six56 in for an independent planning inquiry. For such a significant and strategic site, we're not at all clear why no call in has happened. Having championed our Green Belt for many years, the Lib Dems share residents' anger that this Tory government has allowed the Labour council to write off a huge swathe of the Green Belt. We will continue to challenge the Local Plan and after this latest news, it is clear that the Liberal Democrats are the only party who will protect our Green Belt.