PLANNING permission has been granted to build a massive warehouse on green belt land for Home Bargains at the Omega development in Bold.

The hybrid application sought full planning permission from St Helens Borough Council for the erection of an 829,725 sq.ft logistics warehouse, referred to as unit 1, with 48,287 sq.ft of ancillary office development.

The applicant also sought outline planning permission for a combination of manufacturing and logistics to the remaining application site.

A masterplan shows an indicative layout of three warehouse buildings, which have no end user, and land to the east for a potential expansion of unit 1.

The 2,210,500 sq. ft development, which is on land to the west of Omega South, is in the green belt and consists of 75 hectares of predominantly arable farmland.

The development also falls within the Bold Forest Area Action Plan boundary and will result in a permanent loss of woodland and trees totalling an area of 56,339 m2.

The applicant, Omega St Helens Ltd/T.J. Morris Limited, argued “very special circumstances” applied to the development due to the benefits it would bring.

Joe Morris, director of innovation at TJ Morris and brother of billionaire businessman Tom Morris, told the committee the Omega site is pivotal to the retail giant’s expansion.

Mr Morris said: “This is the single largest investment in over 45 years of trading, we are planning to make. It is strategically important for our future growth and survival.

“We plan to create one of the most advanced distribution centres in the world.

“Nearly 700 jobs will be created at the end of the first year of operation and this will increase to over 1200 when at full operating capacity.

“Many of these jobs are highly skilled and highly sought after. I would ask you to support our major investment in St Helens.

“Please support our planning application.”

In their assessment, council officers said the “very special circumstances” outweighed the substantial harm to the green belt and other harm.

During the meeting, a number of objectors spoke in opposition to the plans.

The council had received a total of 118 independent letters of objection during the planning process

The plans have been met with objections from numerous parish councils in St Helens and Warrington.

Cllr Christopher Hughes from Bold Parish Council spoke at tonight’s meeting, telling members he was speaking on behalf of the 1,300 members of the Bold and Clock Face Action Group.

He argued that the development is in “direct conflict” with the adopted Bold Forest Park Area Action Plan, and should therefore be rejected.

Cllr Hughes said: “the group believe the benefits of the implementation of the Bold forest area action plan far outweigh those of removing the green belt.

“You and the committee have the power to say no to environmental destruction for financial gain and invest in a green future for the benefit of all.

“We should not throw away the fantastic work that councillors Anthony Johnson and Barrie Grunewald put in to produce this plan.

“Let us use their work to provide a sustainable green future for our wonderful borough.”

Following a vote, the committee granted planning permission, subject to a Section 106 agreement and the Secretary of State not wishing to intervene.

Councillors Allan Jones (Conservative), Janet Johnson (Labour), Bisi Osundeko (Labour), Geoff Pearl (Liberal Democrats), James Tasker (The Independents) and David van der Burg (Green Party) voted against.