St Helens refuses 300,000 sq ft Haydock Green Belt scheme

Canmoor’s plans to build 300,000 sq ft of warehouses on a Green Belt plot in Haydock have been refused, with councillors claiming approving the scheme would be about “money, nothing more”.

The proposals cover a 19-acre plot next to the Haydock Lane Industrial Estate to the east of the M6. This is currently vacant and is used as agricultural land.

Canmoor has put forward proposals for four separate units totalling nearly 300,000 sq ft; the largest of these is 150,660 sq ft and also includes a three-storey office, while the other units are 75,810 sq ft; 46,405 sq ft; and 27,150 sq ft. Access is proposed via the South Eastern corner of the site on Haydock Lane.

The site is designated as Green Belt, and Canmoor has had to argue there are ‘very special circumstances’ to bring forward the development.

These hinge on a lack of industrial and employment stock within the borough, which is said to be “constraining development and preventing investment”; Canmoor and its planning consultant and architect Michael Sparks Associates had argued there was a “considerable lack of land and premises of the quality of the application site”.

The developer argued: “It is necessary to deliver the site now rather than wait for the adoption of the Local Plan because there are no comparable sites coming forward and investment will be lost to other areas unless new modern employment developments are delivered”.

Canmoor also argued the scheme would not cause “urban sprawl” given the site’s boundary with a nearby brook. According to Michael Sparks, Canmoor has already fielded interest from a number of parties in the units.

This view was back by officers ahead of committee; planners said the scheme’s contribution to the council’s employment land supply would outweigh the harm to the Green Belt and recommended it for approval.

However, there was a backlash at planning committee, where Labour Cllr Martin Bond spoke against the scheme, arguing there was “brownfield land in the borough that could be remodelled”, and said the Green Belt land was “easy pickings” and “cheap for developers to make big profits from” compared with other available sites.

“There is no need for this [development] to go where it’s planned to go,” he said.

Green Cllr David van der Burg also spoke in objection, particularly around Canmoor’s case for very special circumstances; he argued the recommendation to approve was based on “money, nothing more”.

“A developer wanting to build speculatively on our Green Belt for their own considerable financial gain which may or may not create a couple of hundred poor-quality jobs, cannot possibly be a very special circumstance,” he said.

Labour Cllr Gill Neal, who also spoke out against the scheme put forward a refusal based on the project not meeting the very special circumstances required to release Green Belt land; this was approved by eight votes to three, with one abstention. A previous motion to approve was voted down by seven votes to three.

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The council may have learned their lesson after being duped into the sale of greenbelt for the Florida Farm Development in the same location with the promise of jobs for 2,500.todate, Amazon state in their Warehouse will employ 250 jobs for the moment and the other huge Warehouse that towers over local residential properties built under exceptional circumstances, has still to be let! Haydock junctions are gridlocked on a regular basis and the historic village used as a rat run!

By Geraldine Peplow

The sad fact is that St Helens has already released 2 pieces of greenbelt land for employment use and this has emboldened develeopers who now think they have carte blanche to make approaches for further development. There is plenty of brownfield land in St Helens and this should be being reused and repurposed before thinking of using greenbelt. One continually overlooked site even has its own rail link with a climate emergency being declared, this is a brilliant option. Unfortunately developers have no appetite for this – just want a nice flat field which is easy to develop. Glad the plan has hit the buffers the people of Haydock deserve better.

By Dory

Astonishing – yet again recommendations from paid, professional planning officers ignored by the butcher, baker and candlestick maker. Retention of poor quality agricultural land adjacent to an industrial estate – which is clearly no longer required as agricultural land – in favour of job creation. Pathetic.

By David Sleath

The butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker possibly live in Haydock, if not the wider borough, and the paid professional planning officers may not. So the decision to refuse planning permission is not ‘pathetic’, it simply means that councillors have listened to the very real concerns of people living in the area. I own a house in Haydock not far from this proposed development, as do many relatives. There has been enough sale of green belt in the area, and Haydock is frequently gridlocked, as mentioned in a previous comment. Brown belt is available so if there is a pressing need to build this development then that is what should be used.

By B Tatton

In response to David Sleath, and while not in any way wishing to denigrate butchers, bakers, or indeed candlestick makers, this particular councillor has been a lawyer for the past 20 years, and is more than capable of taking apart the report prepared by council officers. I was only allowed to speak for 3 minutes – there were so many holes in the application and the report that I could have gone on for half an hour. The idea that St Helens, and particularly Haydock (where I have lived for over 18 years), so badly needs more unrewarding warehousing jobs (of which there is already no shortage on local jobs websites) that 4 huge new sheds (with no buyers or lessors in place) should be erected on Green Belt land when there are brownfield sites available within and without the borough, is fanciful. I commend my fellow councillors – from all parties – who had the perspicacity to see through the officers’ report, and the courage to vote it down.

By Cllr David van der Burg

Ridiculous decision – the site is not even close to any housing and adjacent to an already established industrial area with infrastructure in place to support it including 2 motorway junction less than a mile from the site!

Councillors holding back development, investment and progress in the borough because they simply don’t like the idea of anyone potentially making money from development or additional traffic on a junction had has just had a multi-million pound improvement programme completed on it.

There are no other alterative brownfields sites where developers want to build as occupiers wont take units closer into the town centre so what would the Councillors advice be to the youth of St Helens looking for employment? Buy a car, bike, bus pass and travel to neighbouring boroughs where they are more welcoming of new development and growth?

Will they also explain to their constituents how they propose to generate from elsewhere the £1.00M per annum lost income from business rates that his development would have created for the council’s budgets? I am sure this annual cash injection would have been a welcome boost to spending on local services which will now be lost.

By Jeremy Corbin

Nimbys again win against jobs shocking council decision yet again

By Anonymous

17 empty units on or adjacent to Haydock Lane and a speculative build on the greenbelt. Only a disgruntled councillor or a greedy developer would support this.

By The yicker

For those who thought that the vote not to let a developer build on greenbelt was wrong. Revisit what was said: there is plenty of brownfield these massive warehouses could be built on. Not together maybe , but brownfield land is available. The problem is developers want virgin greenbelt , they don’t want the trouble of clearing and making good brownfield, so those calling neighbours NIMBY ‘S get your facts right. Even in Haydock empty warehouses stand empty look to them first and leave the residents, wildlife and greenbelt alone. Go to your own backyards or better still the. Backyard of those on here who attempt to be derogatory to the people who care about there community.

By Leave our greenbelt alone

Somehow this land is seen as an extension of HIE – and then so the next and the next and the next – there is a natural boundary in the form of Clipsley Brook. The agricultural land classification if like FFN is incorrect (which was grade 2 and reported as poor). Flags of convenience to get own way. As for the youth of the town wanting employment – a significant majority I have spoken to work outside the Borough as they want to aspire to something better. Nothing wrong with this type of work for those that want it – and nothing wrong with wanting better. Too reliant on one type of employment – repeating the same mistakes again. BTW there are plenty of brownfield sites available developers just not making the effort to look or don’t like it impacting on their bottom line which is nearer the truth.

By Dory

Some worrying comments by Dory make me wonder if it’s Norman Tebbit in disguise!

The fact that proposed new development like this is thwarted is the reason the youth in St. Helens have to travel out of the borough for employment. I also work in the transport industry in St. Helens to support my family as do many friends so it is insulting to suggest that the jobs these units create are somehow sub standard!

I would be interested to know what other ideas Cllr Van der berg has for job creation and income generation in St. Helens if he is against new development like this? The town centre is in decline and the reality of life through e commerce is that flexible retail jobs that previously were created in town centres are now in warehouses so these jobs won’t be replaced in St. Helens.

As someone who works in the transport industry, I would also be interested to know where these proposed other brown fields sites are in the borough that developers can build on? Because again the reality of business needs like mine is that our clients want us based on sites close to motorway junctions not town centre sites with poor access.

By Dave St. Helens

Some very interesting comments on here and I refer in particular the comments of Mr Sleath who seems to be under the naive impression that as this site doesn’t fall under his definition of “prime agricultural land” in the Greenbelt that it should therefore be released for development.

Can I remind Mr Sleath that that planning legislation covering Greenbelt is in place to stop urban sprawl and maintain separation between built-up conurbations, whether this land is prime agricultural land or derelict scrub matters not one jot.

As this area has already been desecrated by St Helens Council and Developers in respect of a previous development it does not follow that this then sets a precedent for the rest of the greenbelt in the area.

This decision was the right decision, particularly in respect the local residents who have seen this area being progressively devoured over the last 30 years to their detriment, complete with traffic levels now bordering on unsustainable.

By G. Hall

Anonymous writes “NIMBYs have won again against jobs. Shocking decision again”This is the first time the NIMBYs as you call them have won anything.Well done and thanks to them for Fighting hard to stop over development that can only be detrimental to any area of the borough, I take it not your area though Anon. You’d be over the moon to see this in your own back yard. Don’t bother to reply that you would because it will bring jobs. Clearly the NIMBYs have been proved right on that score again and again such is your fondness for the word.

By Wayne K

Nimbyism is the reason why this country is finished, the future is in Asia, North America and Australia, growth is key.


St. Helen’s needs to attract more jobs like Warrington does. It is almost as well located near the M6; and does development near the motorway on the other side of the Lancs effect people in Haddock that much? The jobs will go somewhere else.
St. Helens town centre needs to move with the times too. It has the oldest industrial canal: where is the vision to promote this; restore this; and take advantage of it for leisure use in the 21st century?

By Roscoe

There is Industrial wasteland in built up areas everywhere, but let`s build on a beautiful green belt instead…… Well not this time.

By Bixteth Boy

I wonder is Cllr van der berg made this decision based on what’s best for St Helens with job creation and growth OR because its best for him in making sure he doesn’t add a few minutes onto his short commute to work!

I suspect the latter!

He has also managed to insult those less fortunate than himself who have to belittle themselves by working in warehouses or industrial units as if they are in some way below him and down trodden

By Steve Jones

NO NO NO!!!!
Take it somewhere else
Haydock has already been wrecked with these great pigging warehoues
Again NO!

By Steven Smith

The decision by the planning committee was indeed right. The local residents have already been sold down the road by the passing of Florida Farm North. The local residents bought houses on the promise that they lived in a residential area. Decisions by the council planners change that promise to one of living in a residential area to living in an industrial area. This cannot be right. The residents are owed a duty of care by the council. The residents find themselves in a double jeopardy situation. They are good citizens yet have been treated shabbily by the council and councillors who have a duty of care to them. The old proverb, look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves should be heeded here.

By Our future

Sensible decision – very low numbers of permanent job creation would have been returned from this development.

By Asher

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