Proposed Green Belt employment site in Warrington ‘not needed’
Inspectors accept CPRE’s case that there is no need for the South East Warrington Employment Area.
The draft Warrington Local Plan 2021-2038 is currently undergoing its Examination in Public. The appointed Planning Inspectors (Kevin Ward and Andrea Mageean) are examining the Plan for “soundness” and legal compliance. At hearing sessions held in 2022, CPRE Cheshire argued strongly why levels of development (for housing and employment uses) proposed in the Plan should be reduced and that more of the Borough’s currently designated Green Belt should be protected from development into the future.
Following interim findings, issued by the Inspectors in a letter dated 16 December 2022, Warrington Council consulted on changes to the Plan in early 2023. Significantly these changes included a reduction in the employment land requirement from 316.26 hectares to 168 hectares. This major proposed change would – if replicated in the final Plan – enable the large-scale South East Warrington Employment Area (SEWEA) allocation to be excluded from the Plan, meaning that this area could then continue to be protected as Green Belt.
In response to consultation on the changes, the development industry submitted lengthy statements trying to persuade the Inspectors that the employment land requirement should go back up and that the SEWEA allocation was needed after all. A further hearing session about this issue was held on 13 July 2023 at which CPRE Cheshire once again presented its case. The Inspectors have now issued a further letter stating that the target should remain at or around the lower level of 168 hectares and that SEWEA will not therefore be needed as an employment site.
Whilst there is still a long way to go – and the final Inspectors’ Report has not been issued yet – this is great news at this stage. Fighting lengthy cases like this is a core part of CPRE’s mission and we welcome all the support that we receive from our members and the wider public on this.