A proposed £38m link road on Warrington’s Green Belt, which would connect a potential 270-acre business park on the site of former Parkside Colliery in Newton-Le-Willows, has sparked debate within local councils.
The link road would cross 93 acres of Green Belt, including farmland, before connecting to the Parkside Colliery site. It would also have the potential to unlock future phases of up to 505-acres around the junction to the east and west of the site for employment land and railway infrastructure, according to the planning application.
The proposal includes a single carriageway to the east from the A49 Winwick Road to the A573 Parkside Road with a three-way junction, and a single carriageway road to the east of the M6 to link the A573 Parkside Road to a roundabout on the A579 Winwick lane. The road from the roundabout will be a dual carriageway.
The proposal would link to Parkside Regeneration’s Parkside Colliery business park proposal in Newton-le-Willows. The scheme is being brought forward in a joint venture between Langtree and St Helens Council, and would create 1m sq ft of employment space in its first phase. This phase was recommended for consent at St Helens’ committee on 17 December.
The applicant for the link road, St Helens Council, secured funding through the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Single Investment Fund. The business case for the road explained it would assist in the LCR Growth Strategy to develop more businesses and create sustainable employment.
A SIF award of £24m was made on this basis. The funding agreement requires financial completion by March 2022. An additional £6m would be provided by the public sector and £9.8m from the private sector.
In the first consultation period for the road proposals, objections were raised by 14 households and two resident action groups. The second period elicited 118 objections from locals and two residents action groups.
The parish councils for Culcheth, Glazebury and Croft all objected on the grounds that “it is a piecemeal development that is premature and would prejudice proper overall future planning for this important Green Belt area,”. The councils also said there lacked a “special enough circumstance” to justify the road being built on Green Belt land, and that no consideration had been given to the scheme’s impact on climate change and emissions.
Along with the letters of objection received, the Lane Head South Residents’ Group and the Parkside Action Group submitted their complaints, stating: “The Green Belt would be further eroded by the proposed development and there are no exceptional circumstances to justify development on the Green Belt. The road network is already congested in the area and any increases would be unacceptable. The existing roads are unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists and the scheme would make this worse.”
The road is recommended for approval at Warrington’s planning committee next week. Officers said: “There is demonstrable need for the development; there will be socioeconomic and environmental benefits, and the benefits are considered to outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and considered to constitute very special circumstance which justify the approval.”
Approval would be subject to a planning obligation to secure habitat creation for the great crested newt.