Eddie Stobart Appleton
Eddie Stobart’s plans for a £75m national distribution centre on land north of  Barleycastle Lane in Warrington were refused

Stobart ‘bitterly disappointed’ as Warrington warehouse refused

Charlie Schouten

Against officer recommendation, Warrington’s planning committee has refused an application by Eddie Stobart Logistics to build a 630,000 sq ft warehouse on green belt land off the M56, leading the company’s chief executive to claim it may “look elsewhere” to expand its operations.

The scheme, designed by architect RGP and supported by planner GVA How, was to add to Eddie Stobart’s existing facilities just off Junction 9 of the M56, which currently covers 145,000 sq ft of logistics space. The proposals, developed alongside Liberty Properties, were for a warehouse of around 600,000 sq ft along with circa 30,000 sq ft of office and ancillary space.

Ahead of yesterday’s planning committee, Warrington Council’s planning officers had recommended the scheme for approval, arguing that Stobart had demonstrated ‘very special circumstances’ to allow the project to go ahead; these included supporting more than 650 jobs, and Stobart’s local spend of around £2m per year on businesses within the borough.

The scheme was recommended for approval subject to a Section 106 agreement; this was to include contributions of £2.1m towards public transport, public footpath, and road improvements.

The green belt nature of the site, however, means there were significant objections to the project particularly from local councillors, including Cllrs Sharon Harris, Judith Wheeler, and Gerry Palmer. All three argued the land’s green belt status should be protected, while also highlighting the traffic impact of the development.

Cllr Harris argued that releasing the land from the green belt ahead of Warrington’s refreshed Local Plan would be “premature and wholly inappropriate”, while also accusing Stobart of “a clear lack of concern for the community” by not holding pre-application discussions with Appleton Parish Council and the Appleton Thorn Residents Group.

Meanwhile, Cllr Palmer said the timing of the application, submitted prior to considering the updated Local Plan, was “undemocratic”. On the proposed addition of new jobs, he added: “The benefits never seem to trickle down into the community. All we get is the congestion, the litter, the pollution, the noise and the loss of our precious green space.”

Following the refusal, Alex Laffey, chief executive officer at Eddie Stobart, said the business now may “look elsewhere” to expand as a result of the decision.

“We are bitterly disappointed that Warrington Council’s Development Management Committee decided to refuse our application at Appleton Thorn, against the advice of their officers,” he said.

“We will consider carefully the reasons for refusal and what our options are to contest the decision.  The refusal may well mean that Eddie Stobart will have to look elsewhere to expand, taking the 480 new jobs and the annual £18m economic boost with it.”

Your Comments

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given that the council couldn’t approve it because it is premature to do so for a scheme this size outside the development plan process it is hardly surprising.

By Euan Hall

Steady, Eddie. You can’t just put your big boxes and jobs wherever you like you know.

By Gary Green Belt

It simply beggars belief that Planning committee’s repeatedly fly in the face of recommendations from the salaried Professionals employed to process Planning applications. If I was a Planning Officer I would not feel motivated to do the best job that I could for the Local Authority on the basis that there is every likelihood that my recommendation as a professional would be ignored at the alter of the NIMBY lobby – no wonder this Country is in the state it is in with ridiculous decisions like this.

By David Sleath

Parkside would be ideal, come on St.Helens

By Bobby Brownfield

I second that Parkside would be a great fit

By Marcos

A poor result for GVA How Planning.

By Alan

I agree with Alan. If GVA HOW Planning had done its research correctly, it would have realised this application stood limited chance of success with the LPA, given;

(a) the site’s location in the Green Belt, which causes an immediate cause for concern amongst residents / councillors and is a big no no;
(b) the difficulties in demonstrating VSC’s for a great big box creating low paid jobs;
(c) the traffic problems which already exist on the strategic and local highway networks, which are truly awful; and
(d) the NIMBY views of local councillors.

The chances of success at appeal, however, might differ. It will be interesting to see where this one goes.

By Disgruntled Warrington

The best news ever! They ruined the village of chelford by selling off there yard for housing.

By Ian sparrow

Ridiculous. Any sensible review of the greenbelt in this area would mean the redrawing of the estate boundary. Some low value agri land between industrial units “protected.” People should look at the location to understand why the planning officers supported it.

By Optimist

Anyone else notice the Officer’s reported number of new jobs was different to Stobart’s Chief Exec’s!

By Bobby Zamora

What a load of rubbish, Stobarts have already put in the appeal for this to still go ahead. Money talks eh, disgusting that is green belt land and should be left alone.

By Barbara Derrek

There will be minimal new jobs, most will be there own agency drivers from outside warrington or from there other depot the other side of warrington. Goodbye greenbelt hello traffic jams & pollution. I hope you all stand up to the big green machine

By Mr Honest