'A crackpot scheme': Borough MP speaks out on St Helens council decision to build distribution centre on former colliery
A ‘crackpot’ decision to transform a former colliery into a huge storage and distribution centre should be called in by the government, according to Leigh’s MP.
St Helens Council controversially approved the regeneration of Parkside colliery, including a link road to the M6, in December – despite 667 objections.
The Labour-run authority was accused of ‘marking its own homework’ for backing the Parkside Regeneration, which it had developed alongside property company Langtree.
Residents living in the neighbouring village of Lowton were among the objectors along with Wigan and Warrington councils.
With the secretary of state Robert Jenrick poised to have the final say on the application, Tory MP James Grundy has urged the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to call it in.
Mr Grundy, who still represents Lowton East on Wigan council, said on Facebook: “Last weekend I was out campaigning with fellow new [Warrington South] MP Andy Carter against the crackpot scheme of Labour-run St Helens council to build a massive intermodal freight interchange at the old Parkside colliery site, with an exit point onto Winwick Lane, Lowton.
“Local residents that use Winwick Lane, or have to travel through Lane Head at peak times know it is madness to put thousands of extra HGV movements into an already gridlocked area with dangerously poor air quality.”
If the call-in request is approved, it would be considered by an independent planning inquiry which could overturn the planning committee’s decision.
Such a move is only considered by the secretary of state when the original decision raises issues of national significance.
The Parkside Regeneration would see 230 acres cleared in Newton-le-Willows for one million sq ft of employment space.
The first phase of construction is expected to start in 2021 – subject to government intervention – and finish in mid-2022.
A £38m link road would connect the business park to junction 22 of the M6 motorway, and could pave the way for further redevelopment of neighbouring parcels of land.
Both projects will be built on green belt land, which is typically restricted unless permitted by ‘very special circumstances’ which St Helens council and Langtree argue have been met.
Elsewhere the government has been asked to consider calling in the approval of a similar application in Wigan borough – the vast Symmetry Park near the M6 in Winstanley.
Yvonne Fovargue, Labour MP for Makerfield, and campaigners raised concerns about the loss of more than 130 acres of green belt land, and impacts on air quality and traffic levels.