Concerns have been raised after the council decided not to defend the decision to refuse motorway service station plans on the M62.
Extra MSA’s application for a block permit for the site north of Junction 11 at Birchwood was rejected by the development management committee in June.
The program included proposals for a hotel with a capacity of up to 100 beds, a service yard, a service station, an electric charging station, landscaping and parking areas and associated infrastructure.
The members refused the request after judging that the proposed development would constitute an inappropriate development in the green belt and, by definition, would be detrimental to the green belt. The applicant’s case for very special circumstances was not considered to be greater than the harm caused to the green belt.
An appeal against the decision to refuse a motorway service station project on the M62 is due to start in March.
A report on the matter was presented to the Development Management Committee (DMC) at its meeting on Thursday.
And the committee voted not to provide evidence to defend the denial.
Cllr Wendy Maisey (CON – Culcheth, Glazebury and Croft) spoke at the meeting and again reiterated her concerns about inappropriate green belt development in her area.
After the decision, she said, “The decision made by the DMC was devastating news for the neighborhood I represent.
“I am also very concerned about some of the debates that night and the fact that as an elected council member I was asked to leave the room for the second part of the meeting.
“I challenged this at the time to no avail and when the 45 minute meeting for part two ended I was invited back.
“The lack of transparency and openness on such a huge development has left me very angry. “It’s a double whammy on top of the fact that we will inevitably have a motorway service station forced upon us in my neighborhood.”
The council has released a statement on this.
A spokesperson said: ‘The application for a new motorway service station at Junction 11 of the M62 was refused by DMC in June 2021 as it was considered that the applicant’s case for very specific circumstances not outweigh any injury to the greenbelt through functionality and loss of openness, and any other damages resulting from development.
“The applicant has since appealed this decision to the Town Planning Inspectorate and there will be a public inquiry to independently examine the proposal in March. Following this, the town planning inspector will write a report and make a decision based on all material issues.
“As part of the preparation for the investigation, new information has come to light, including a statement from the National Highways which is the statutory body responsible for the strategic road network.
“In its statement, National Highways supports the proposal on the basis of need and safety. Their statement constitutes a material and significant change in circumstances since the decision on the application was made and on Thursday evening the DMC decided not to provide any evidence to support the ground for denial on this basis.
“There were clarifications provided to the public on the main issues to be considered and the process in the agenda folder and verbally in the public section of the meeting, with confidential discussion and voting taking place separately to protect information that is exempt under local government. Law (1972).
“The committee’s decision was then relayed to the public by the chairman of the planning committee when the public element of the meeting resumed.
“Notwithstanding the committee’s resolution, the investigation will progress as planned in March and interested parties will have the opportunity to approach the Inspectorate in accordance with their processes.”
A nine-day public inquiry is due to open on March 23.