The Green Belt logistics scheme in St Helens was dismissed by the secretary of state over concerns about how it would impact the landscape.
Peel L&P’s Haydock Point Employment Park has been in the works since 2017, when plans were initially submitted to St Helens Council. Located on 104.5 acres on land to the north east of the A580, the 1.8m sq ft industrial project was sent to the secretary of state on appeal in July 2020 on grounds that the council had not yet given a decision.
In November 2020, the council did weigh in – voting unanimously to refuse the application over the harm it would cause the landscape.
One year later and the secretary of state has ultimately taken a similar position in his dismissal of the appeal.
In a decision dated 11 November 2021, the secretary of state acknowledged the plan’s merits, including economic benefits and providing jobs in St Helens.
However, the secretary’s decision stated that the benefits of the proposal “are not collectively sufficient to clearly outweigh the harm of the Green Belt and other harms such that very special circumstances would exist to justify permitting the development”.
St Helens Council cabinet member for regeneration and planning Cllr Richard McCauley praised the decision.
“We are pleased that the democratic decision of our own local planning committee has been upheld,” McCauley said. “Our planning committee were clear when they initially refused permission last November that the proposals were not suitable for the site.”
In response to the dismissal, Richard Knight, Peel L&P’s planning and strategy director said: “Haydock Point is a huge opportunity to invest millions of pounds in St Helens, create thousands of new jobs in a thriving sector and deliver significant improvements to the highway network at Junction 23 of the M6.
“Naturally, we’re disappointed with the Government’s decision to refuse our plans, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty and with the imperative to level up the country,” he continued.
“Nonetheless, we have been pleased to see the support submitted for the plans from local residents, regional groups and the business community and we will now look at the secretary of state’s reasons for refusal and consider our options for the future.”
Turley was the planning consultant for Haydock Point.
The news of Haydock Point’s refusal comes alongside the approval of another called-in development in St Helens, Parkside Colliery. Parkside Colliery and Haydock Point were two of five schemes brought before the secretary of state in spring and summer 2020.
The other three were Tritax Symmetry’s 1.4m sq ft Symmetry Park in Wigan, Harworth Group’s 1m sq ft West of Wingates in Bolton, and Liberty Properties Developments’ and Eddie Stobart’s £73m Warrington warehouse.