Work starts on 3MG road at centre of legal row

Halton Council has appointed Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering to build the £10m road into the greenfield site once reserved for an Amazon warehouse before plans were thrown out at High Court.

The road is being funded largely by two government grants; £5.4m from the Growing Places Fund and £4.5m from Regional Growth Fund.

The site is next to Mersey Multimodal Gateway, 3MG, home to Stobart and Tesco and an important logistics handling area for the city region.

A spokesman for Halton Council said: "Planning permission was obtained for the road in 2008, Balfour Beatty has been appointed as the principal contractor and the road works resumed in October."

However, Hale Bank Parish Council, which successfully called for the judicial review that quashed Halton's planning permission for Prologis to build a 1.2m sq ft shed at the contentious site earlier this year, has now called for a review of the road funding.

Julie Egan, clerk to Hale Bank Parish Council, wrote a letter to Robert Hough, chairman of Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, which oversees RGF and GPF bids. Egan said: "The implications of this [High Court] judgement mean not only that you are granting funding for a road to a development site that has no legal planning consent, but there is now a very serious doubt as to whether any potential development is capable of fulfilling the stringent planning conditions pertaining to the site."

She continued: "Given the enormous demand on limited public sector regeneration budgets and the need to ensure that the most important and deliverable schemes are prioritised, Hale Bank Parish Council believes the LEP should now review this decision and seek independent legal advice concerning the changed development prospects for site 253. The Parish Council will itself be seeking urgent legal advice including consideration of whether the Liverpool City Region LEP is breaching its fiduciary duty by continuing to allocate more than £5m of funding to facilitate a development that no longer has lawful planning consent."

In response, a spokesman for the LEP said: "The 3MG project is recognised to be of strategic importance to the LEP and is a key component of our SuperPort Action Plan. Planning permission is in place for infrastructure works to develop the site and the LEP had approved a Growing Places Fund allocation to support this.

"The correspondence from the Parish Council outlines a number of points with regard to the planning process; these are a matter for Halton Borough Council. The LEP will liaise with Halton Borough Council to understand the implication of the planning matters."

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What a shame….I cannot understand the actions of the Parish Council, can anyone enlighten me?

By Andrew Orme