‘No surprise’ as controversial motorway service station approved on greenbelt land

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CONTROVERSIAL proposals for a new motorway service station on green belt land next to the M62 near Birchwood, Warrington, have been approved on appeal by a government planning inspector.

The decision is ‘not a big surprise’ for the local Cllrs. who objected to the application which includes a 100-bed hotel, a service station, an electric charging station and a facilities building presented by Extra MSA, after Warrington Borough Council decided not to defend a decision of the planning committee to reject the application.

The approval comes with a long list of conditions, including checking the crested newts and badger sets in the area.

Councilor Wendy Maisey OBE, Culcheth Glazebury Croft, who previously described her feeling of ‘utter dismay’ at Council’s decision not to defend the appeal, said: ‘The Warrington Borough Councils DMC’s decision in February this year was obviously a huge disappointment, so today’s decision really comes as no big surprise. I spoke passionately at the February meeting and encouraged all members to defend the appeal, but in vain.

“Little by little, we are losing the battle to protect the green belt in our villages. It’s a really sad day for the neighborhood I represent and comes on top of the 500 houses that are being forced upon us in the Greenbelt in Culcheth and 80 in Croft. Never has a truer word been more relevant than today about the Greenbelt… ‘Once it’s gone, it’s gone’”

Cllr Maisey said in June 2021, when the development was initially denied by the DMC, that “it was a win for common sense”.

Meanwhile, Croft Parish Cllr, Norman Partington, said: ‘Croft Parish Council has fought long and hard against this proposal, which it believes will be a significant imposition, benefiting only passing motorway travelers at the expense of the local community. The target area is enjoyed by much of the local population for its beauty and for walks around Silver Lane Lakes and the nearby ‘Risley Landfill’. All of this will now be threatened by this major development, which includes a 100-room hotel.

“Warrington Borough Council rejected the planning application submitted to this effect in June 2021. But after the appeal was lodged by the MSA Group, Council decided that it would take no action against them when the appeal was was heard in March. It was a huge disappointment.

“The appeal decision itself admits: ‘As an inappropriate development in the green belt, the proposal is by definition harmful, there would be significant harm to the opening, albeit localized and limited to purpose. to protect the countryside against encroachment. ‘ On top of that we have the likely coming of the HS2 line passing nearby.

“Local people have a right to ask why a remote government planning inspector without democratic accountability can devastate our local environment when local democratic processes have rejected this despoliation.

The proposed development is for the construction of a motorway service area comprising a facilities building, a hotel for up to 100 rooms, a service yard, a fuel service station, an electric charging station , car parks, landscaping and amenity areas and associated infrastructure and earthworks.

In his report, Inspector George Baird said: “On the positive side, the MSA would provide investment and employment and provide social benefits. These economic, social and environmental benefits, taken together, carry substantial weight.
The proposal would meet a long-standing identified need for an MSA in sections of the SRN, ensure the safety and well-being of motorists, there are no sequentially preferable green belt sites or non-green belt sites available, and NH supports development. Case law establishes that significant or considerable weight must be given to this support and that one must be persuasive and persuasive to deviate from this support. The provision of MSAs and the achievement of the objectives set out in Annex B of Circular 02/2013 rely on private sector investment.

“Here there is no indication that the call-out scheme would not be put in place and as such would meet the clear and obvious need for an MSA on this part of the motorway network and as such has considerable weight. Accordingly, looking at the case as a whole, the other considerations clearly outweigh the harm identified and there are very specific circumstances which justify the development.

A full copy of the inspector’s decision can be viewed CLICK HERE

Total dismay at ‘behind closed doors’ decision not to challenge motorway service station plan

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