PLANNING chiefs in Warrington have withdrawn an objection to the huge Parkside Colliery development proposals after the position was labelled as weak and inconsistent.

An outline application to regenerate the land at Newton-le-Willows came before Warrington Borough Council’s (WBC) development management committee during its virtual meeting on Wednesday.

WBC has been consulted as an adjoining authority but it is down to St Helens Borough Council (SHC) to determine the application.

The proposals include the construction of up to 92,900 square metres of employment floorspace, car parking, vehicle and pedestrian circulation space, alteration of existing access road including works to the existing A49 junction and noise mitigation.

This scheme for the land – which falls in the green belt to the east of the A49 Winwick Road – is known as Parkside phase one.

In a letter, St Helens Council leader Cllr David Baines highlighted a commitment to deliver the Parkside link road prior to phase one becoming operational.

Parkside Regeneration, the applicant, is a joint venture between developer Langtree and St Helens Council.

It says 457 full-time equivalent jobs would be created during construction and an additional 1,330 jobs during operation.

The proposal is the first phase of a comprehensive development of the former Parkside Colliery site to help meet the employment need in St Helens.

In June 2018, WBC’s development management committee objected to the proposals.

This followed concerns from residents on issues including traffic, impact on the green belt, noise, air quality and ecology.

However, since that objection was made, the applicant submitted further information and, in addition, both authorities considered planning applications for the link road, which involves land within both boroughs.

Warrington and St Helens both passed plans for the highways scheme in December 2019, subject to conditions and the secretary of state not wishing to intervene.

WBC’s officers said the objection to phase one is inconsistent with the resolution to approve the link road.

And during Wednesday’s meeting, Cllr Tom Jennings (LAB – Bewsey and Whitecross) said the current position of WBC is a weak and inconsistent one.

Cllr Bob Barr (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall) said: “This is a very difficult application to understand for members of the public who are watching our proceedings tonight because we’re not the planning authority for this, we’ve been consulted as a matter of courtesy, perhaps there’s a legal obligation for us to be consulted.”

Members were told the link road ‘offers a benefit’ to Winwick and were reminded the application has been called in by the secretary of state so there will be a public inquiry, with a final decision made by the secretary of state.

Furthermore, it was confirmed that work totalling £3.26 million – funded by the applicant – will take place in Warrington to mitigate the impact of on the highway network.

Cllr Steve Parish (LAB – Chapelford and Old Hall) told members it is "out of our control anyway" because it is going to a public inquiry.

The committee voted to withdraw the objection to phase one on the condition that the secretary of state accepts the conditions on highway mitigation on the A49 in Warrington, along with taking into account other conditions suggested by WBC and also that SHC takes all practical steps to ensure the link road is open to traffic prior to any part of development on the phase one site being occupied.