Council Rejects Plans To Build £75 Million Pound Warehouse

Eddie Stobart wanted to build the facility opposite their existing site

Plans to build a £75 million Eddie Stobart warehouse on green belt land have been refused.

The firm’s headquarters – which the council has bought – are located at Stretton Green Distribution Park.

The proposed new facility would have been constructed opposite the existing site, on land north of Barleycastle Lane, and in addition to the current premises.

The plans comprised demolition of existing buildings to pave the way for a national distribution centre with office space, parking provision, internal roads and a waste management area.

Cllr Judith Wheeler slammed applicants Eddie Stobart and Liberty Properties over their proposals during Wednesday’s development management committee meeting.

She said: “This is shameful and shows their arrogance and utter contempt for the local community.

“The economic benefit will be for Stobart only.”

Cllr Ryan Bate believed the application was ‘fatally flawed’.

He said: “Firstly, there is a need to look at traffic and infrastructure holistically but secondly, far more importantly, this committee needs to consider the precedent it could set tonight for any future applications, in terms of the interpretation of too easily repeatable very special circumstances.

“This application simply does not fulfil the very special circumstances to justify releasing green belt.”

The construction phase was expected to support around 240 full-time jobs, while the national distribution centre was tipped to create approximately 480 full-time jobs.

As part of the very special circumstances highlighted for building in the green belt, Eddie Stobart pointed to the £570 million of turnover each year from its Warrington headquarters.

Chief executive Alex Laffey said: “We want to grow the business even further and are committed to growing in Warrington.

“We are ambitious for Eddie Stobart but are also ambitious for Warrington.”

But Cllr David Keane raised concerns over the firm ‘abusing’ people economically.

He added: “I want good jobs in Warrington.

“We need an element of truth, openness and transparency.”

But it drew a response from Mr Laffey.

He said: “In all cases, we offer competitive pay and our retention is ahead of the industry.

“Clearly, we need to have competitive pay.

“My belief is that drivers are all above the living wage.”

Cllr Bob Barr highlighted the firm’s positive impact on the town before raising concerns over the application being ‘secretly put together’ without consultation with the community.

The committee was recommended to approve the application, subject to a section 106 agreement.

However, members turned it down on the grounds of the economic argument failing to outweigh harm to the green belt, as well as the application being submitted prematurely.

The decision was met with applause from residents in the packed Town Hall chamber.

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