Cheshire East has granted planning consent for an 800-space car park on Green Belt land for Manchester Airport, after deferring a decision earlier this year.
The 318,000 sq ft site is within the Green Belt and works would include the demolition of 48 and 52 Moss Lane to create an 800-space expansion to the airport’s parking provision.
The council’s planning committee deferred a decision on the scheme in August, despite a recommendation to approve from officers, arguing the Airport should be able to show it had a “plan B” before approval.
However, after receiving additional assurances from the Airport, the plans were approved with six members voting in favour and three against.
The Airport had argued there were no real alternatives to developing a car park, with other sites including at Shadowmoss and Jet Parks 3 already built out or designated for future development.
“The strategy is to consolidate surface parking into two large sites, which are more efficient to operate and allow much higher utilisation of space,” the Airport said.
“Smaller sites, closer to the terminals, are being developed for terminal and apron expansion and other uses needing an airside or central location. Consequently, there are no alternative sites within the Airport Operation Zone able to accommodate surface parking on this scale in the timescale required to accommodate demand.”
With the airport becoming increasingly congested, planning officers had given the scheme a recommendation to approve, due to its impact on the reduction in drop-offs and taxi journeys to the airport, the current limitations of public transport, the lack of capacity in existing car parking facilities over summer, and the reduction of third-party off-site car parking.
There would also be green landscaping, a footpath, and ecological mitigation measures to minimise the impact on the Green Belt.
Despite the site being within the Green Belt, it does also fall within an Airport Operational Zone, a designation it has had since 1995, and was described at committee as “the last piece of the jigsaw” to be completed, meaning airport-related development would be unlikely to spread beyond this point.
The recommendation to approve has been passed to the Secretary of State for final sign-off given the site’s Green Belt designation.