Campaigners fear a developer may use a town centre shopping site at the centre of an extraordinary 125-year lease deal as ‘leverage’ in its bid to build on Peel Hall.
An appeal against the council’s decision to refuse Satnam’s plans for 1,200 homes on the land was dismissed by the Planning Inspectorate in December.
But Warrington North MP Helen Jones has warned residents that the battle for the site may resume quicker than expected.
The Labour politician understands the developer is already in ‘pre-application discussions’ with the council, with a view to submitting a further application.
Mrs Jones said: “I understand Satnam have started the process of applying again to build on Peel Hall, just over a month after the planning inspector found against their last application.
“Pre-application talks with the council’s development management team are already under way.
“Many of us thought that Satnam would return but the community may be in for another fight earlier than we expected.”
Campaigners have reacted strongly to the MP’s announcement.
Wendy Johnson-Taylor said: “We knew they would come back but we didn’t expect it to be so soon.
“If Satnam think they can ignore people, the council and the Planning Inspectorate and come straight back with another application, they should expect another hard fight from residents.”
The authority currently lists the 69-hectare site as available land in local plan documents – but it is being urged to protect it from development by removing it.
Residents say they are ready for another fight but are calling on Town Hall chiefs to act ‘decisively’.
Jon Parr said: “This whole process has wasted a lot of public money.
“We suspect that Satnam are moving quickly to try and get another appeal in before the council takes Peel Hall out of the local plan.”
As revealed by the Warrington Guardian in August last year, Hatters Row will cost the council almost £10.5 million over the next century as it is locked into an extraordinary £109,000-a-year lease deal.
The council had initially been renting the shopping site, on Horsemarket Street, from Northscene Limited, a subsidiary of Satnam Investments Limited.
But payments for Hatters Row are now being made to Manchester and Provincial Car Parks Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Satnam Investments Limited.
The council has made a staggering £548,655 loss from the site since 2011-12.
Fellow campaigner Jim Sullivan added: “I have some concerns that Satnam might try to use their ownership of Hatters Row as leverage in their next application.
“Thanks to the local press, we know that the council is locked in an expensive lease there.
“I would urge residents to write to Russ Bowden and make it clear that we will not accept a ‘dirty deal’ being done behind closed doors.”
More than 500 people have signed Mrs Jones’ petition asking for Peel Hall to be removed from the local plan, as well as for council to commit to ensure that no development is allowed on the site.
To sign it visit helenjonesmp.co.uk/peel-hall-petition-to-be-submitted-to-warrington-borough-council
Satnam or the council did not wish to comment.