Heavyweights line up to oppose Benmore scheme

Towerbeg, a subsidiary of the Belfast-based Benmore Group, is facing heavyweight opposition to its proposed £30m leisure and retail development in south Liverpool.

The group has submitted plans for a seven-screen cinema, 18 commercial units and a 78-bed hotel on a 15-acre brownfield site near the New Mersey Retail Park off Speke Hall Road

It is also seeking outline permission for a 120-bed hotel, another 78-bed hotel and a further three commercial units.

The plans, which will be considered by Liverpool City Council on November 29, have attracted the ire of Peel Holdings, the car-maker Ford, various rail-freight bodies and the union Unite.

But council officers have recommended the scheme is approved.

Peel, which owns land nearby, has submitted an eight-page objection through its Peel Investments division. It states that the scheme represents economic development but not "sustainable economic growth".

It argues the development, which will use land adjacent to a freight terminal, will frustrate the expansion of rail freight in the city and impact on the region's growth.

Ford is concerned because it leases part of the site to store up to 4,000 cars for its distribution operation. It employs 135 people directly, and supports a further 54. Ford says these jobs would be lost if it was forced to move.

The rail-freight lobby and Unite argue that the proposals would "undermine the automotive intermodal freight terminal which has operated for over 40 years".

However, council officers say the scheme's benefits, "outweight any policy concerns".

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