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Green Belt harm at Parkside, St Helens

29th January 2021

The focus on road-based logistics in this proposed development would undermine a more sustainable multi-modal approach on this site and lead to an increase in HGV traffic on the local road network.

Throughout January, a Planning Inquiry has considered two applications for one million sq ft of large format warehousing and a new road to unlock further land situated both at the former Parkside Colliery site and on a large swathe of high grade farmland, all in protected Green Belt.

The site has been identified for a strategic freight rail interchange for a long time, first in the North West Regional Spatial Strategy and in the adopted Development Plan. It has always been prioritised for rail. The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority signed off £23m Strategic Infrastructure Fund supported by both St Helens and Warrington Councils, however local people are worried that the focus on ‘road’ based logistics is compromising the more sustainable strategic multi-modal approach and will result in much more HGV traffic on the local road network, which is already over capacity and frequently at a standstill. James Grundy MP has objected to the proposals based on the harm to local roads.

Traffic and air-quality modelling has not been properly validated and there are unresolved issues. Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester has supported local residents calling for more evidence of impacts, as the site borders Wigan and impacts on existing Air Quality Management Areas that are already in exceedance of EU legal limits, with resulting health problems, such as respiratory disease in the local population.

Earlier today Parkside Action Group (PAG) gave its closing statement highlighting the Green Belt harm, and other harms associated with the developments outweigh the claimed benefits.
In summary, the points it raised are as follows:

• The schemes are not compliant with the adopted local development plan;
• The schemes are contrary to national and local Green Belt planning policies;
• Very special circumstances have not been demonstrated to justify development in the Green Belt;
• The consideration of substantial Green Belt release through ad-hoc planning applications rather than a proper development plan process is unsatisfactory;
• Approval of the link road would imply release of further sites from the Green Belt, pre-empting future planning applications;
• The scheme would harm the rural economy and enable development that would fail to diversify economic opportunity and is of marginal and questionable economic value;
• Traffic generation would be unsustainable and would cause harm in terms of congestion and also to amenity, especially if worst case scenarios occur;
• The schemes would have a detrimental effect on air quality, which already exceeds pollution limits;
• The air quality modelling is deficient and the argument for an improvement in air quality is implausible;
• The schemes would cause considerable harm to landscape character, visual amenity, ecology, wildlife and biodiversity;
• Mitigation for the loss of the natural environment is inadequate;
• The scheme would harm amenity through noise and disturbance (loss of tranquillity), light, visual impact and loss of recreational facilities.
• The schemes would cause substantial harm to several heritage assets (designated and non-designated) and their settings;
• In the case of the spoil heap, the heritage impact has not been understood or considered at all;
• Embedding more road haulage, in advance of the priority rail purpose, is not sustainable and would have adverse impacts on the climate emergency,
• Cumulative impacts with other developments have not been fully assessed.

CPRE echoes PAG’s concerns, which is keen to stress that it does support local new jobs and a buoyant economy but rejects the argument that this type of low-density job development , which is low value, based on insecure contracts and subject to automation,  would actually resolve any issues of deprivation in the future. The economy is already dominated by logistics and even if these benefits were realised, the harms are too great a price to pay.

CPRE the countryside charity in Lancashire, Liverpool City Region and Greater Manchester, is supportive of the PAG objection. Ms Debra McConnell, Chair, commented:
“Ordinarily CPRE would be supportive of a brownfield first approach for delivery of development. However in this case it is believed that there is a disproportionate harm to the countryside of the local area. Both the local community’s quality of life and that of wildlife is threatened. In CPRE’s views the harms clearly outweigh the public good. Among many issues cumulative impacts and climate change have not been addressed adequately. CPRE expects more from a proper approach to town and country planning. In the wider area we have witnessed too much speculative development of large sheds leading to a substantial harm to Green Belt purpose. We trust the Secretary of State will listen to the community’s legitimate concerns and refuse the application.”

Download the closing statement here:

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