The developer’s plans to create a 1.8m sq ft industrial complex on Green Belt land close to Haydock Racecourse have suffered a setback after St Helens Council opposed the £165m scheme ahead of an inquiry.
Before the inquiry, granted after Peel L&P appealed on the grounds of non-determination, St Helens was required to state whether it would have approved or refused the application had the council remained as the determining authority.
Despite a recommendation to approve from planning officers, the council’s planning committee opted unanimously to refuse to Peel L&P’s application ahead of the inquiry, due to the harm the project would cause to the landscape.
A final decision on the proposals, taking into account St Helens’ position, will be made by secretary of state Robert Jenrick in February.
The developer submitted a planning application for Haydock Point Employment Park in March 2017, however, St Helens Council had not made a decision on whether to approve the proposals in the three years since.
As a result, Peel L&P, which is working with industrial developer PLP on the scheme, lodged an appeal calling for the application to be decided by Jenrick alongside a handful of similar projects called in by the Government in May.
Peel L&P had lobbied for its plans for Haydock Point to be considered as part of the same process as the other called-in schemes “to prevent the proposals from being ignored”, it said.
In response to St Helens’ decision not to back the project ahead of the inquiry, Richard Knight, director of land and communities at Peel L&P, said he was “disappointed” and that the council’s concerns about the harm the project would cause to the landscape were “unexpected”.
“We will have a look to see what can be done to address that issue and we look forward to continuing to work with local stakeholders in order to ensure that St Helens does not miss the opportunity to unlock substantial investment in the borough,” Knight said.
The scheme would include an £11.4m investment to upgrade Junction 23 of the M6 and create around 2,500 jobs once complete, according to Peel L&P.
The other schemes called in by the secretary of state earlier this year are:
- Langtree’s 1m sq ft redevelopment of Parkside Colliery in St Helens
- Tritax Symmetry’s 1.44m sq ft warehouse scheme Symmetry Park in Wigan
- Harworth Group’s 1m sq ft Wingates scheme in Bolton
Liberty Properties Developments and Eddie Stobart’s plans for a £75m national distribution centre on land north of Barleycastle Lane in Warrington were also called in in May, but Jenrick refused the 630,000 sq ft proposal on the grounds of harm it would cause to the Green Belt.