THE plans for a Home Bargains warehouse on green belt land in Bold as part of the Omega development have been called in by the Secretary of State.

In October, St Helens Council's planning committee had granted permission to build a massive warehouse on the land by a majority vote.

Councillors were divided over the plans, which attracted more than 100 objection letters.

The application sought full planning permission for the creation 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.

READ > Councillors divided over Home Bargains warehouse plans

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, told the committee the Omega site is pivotal to the retail giant’s expansion.

He 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 1,200 when at full operating capacity."

St Helens Star: A CGI of the proposed warehouseA CGI of the proposed warehouse

The council received a total of 118 independent letters of objection to the plans, with opposition from numerous parish councils in St Helens and Warrington.

Cllr Christopher Hughes from Bold Parish Council spoke to October's committee hearing, 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.”

A letter sent to the council on behalf of the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Robert Jenrick dated Friday, December 18 confirmed that the warehouse plans have been called in.

It stated: "In deciding whether to call-in this application, the Secretary of State has considered his policy on calling in planning applications.

"This gives examples of the types of issues which may lead him to conclude, in his opinion, that an application should be called-in.

"In light of his policy, the Secretary of State has decided to call-in this application.

"He accordingly directs, under his powers in section 77 of the 1990 Act, that the application shall be referred to him instead of being dealt with by the Local Planning Authority".

A spokesman for the Planning Inspectorate said it is too early for any further action to have be taken with regard to arranging the inquiry at this stage.