High Court challenge scuppers 1,000 new jobs in Widnes

A LEGAL challenge by Hale Bank Parish Council has scuppered 1,000 new jobs being created at a colossal warehouse in Widnes.

Online retail giant Amazon hoped to open a £46 million distribution centre in October.

A High Court judge has quashed Halton Council’s decision in August 2011 to grant developer Prologis planning permission for a 1.2 million sq ft distribution centre at the Mersey Multimodal Gateway freight park.

In a judicial review, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC criticised the council for making their decision last summer too quickly, without providing sufficient time for consultation.

A planning committee was brought forward to August, when parish councillors were on holiday.

Sally Macdonald, of Halton Council’s employment, economic regeneration and business development department, told the hearing: “Developments of this kind are very rare, and as such, high importance is placed on them and they are afforded priority status as there are few opportunities available to create this number of jobs.”

A public exhibition had been held in June and newsletters were distributed to homes across Hale Bank.

Judge Gilbert said: “Getting to grips with an environmental statement of almost 1,000 pages and achieving an understanding of a scheme of this size and scale is not a matter of holiday reading.

“Even those of us whose professional life is spent grappling with such projects would have found that this one required some study and reflection.

“I am therefore of the view that this consultatation was not conducted fairly or effectively.”

Council leader, Clr Rob Polhill, said: “We are extremely disappointed.

“The biggest loser here is the 1,000 jobs we would have had.

“We have been criticised for acting too quickly. Our mission is to try and bring as many jobs into Halton as we can.

“We will continue to work on the infrastructure to make the site more accessible. A new road will be in by September.”

Hale Bank Parish Council chairman Colin Rowan accused the council of wasting taxpayer’s money.

He said: “It is a huge waste of public money in both legal costs and officer time and most importantly, these jobs have now been lost.

“The blame for all this lies squarely at the feet of Halton Council. Someone at Halton was so eager to push this through that they thought they could ignore the law.

“Amazon should have been offered another site.

“We were hugely disappointed that Prologis went along with Halton’s dodgy plan.

“We invited them to come and talk to us, and after originally saying yes, they suddenly changed their minds and declined.

“The council tax paying public of Halton deserve answers and apologies from the leader of the council and their chief executive.”

Comments (3)

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5:18pm Wed 25 Jul 12

johnfos52 says...

Why didn't halton council jump on this opportunity and welcome them to Runcorn, we have plenty of space here and large numbers of unemployed who are desperate for work. Or is just a bridge to far again???
Why didn't halton council jump on this opportunity and welcome them to Runcorn, we have plenty of space here and large numbers of unemployed who are desperate for work. Or is just a bridge to far again??? johnfos52
  • Score: 0

6:05pm Wed 25 Jul 12

DeJeneration says...

"Development could lower their house prices" - these words were uttered in court by QC Vincent Fraser who Halton Council employed (at probably a significant cost to the tax payer) to fight the Halebank Parish Council and refers to homes in the Halebank area affected by the Amazon Shed.

I wasn't involved in the court case or with Halebank Parish Council but these words spoken by QC Vincent Fraser on behalf of Halton Council scared me witless. I moved to Halebank with the buzz word in the air of regeneration - it hasn't happened. The last thing I want to see is Halton Borough Council going about purposely trying to reduce my house price even further in place of securing 1000 jobs - and everyone blaming Halebank Parish Council for 'scuppering' 1000 jobs need to wait for QC Vincent Fraser on behalf of Halton Council to come knocking on their door saying they've found an alternative site for the Amazon Shed and see how quick you jump?

What I am looking forward to is Halton Council using the £5.4m funds they now have towards a HGV Relief Road which has been a long term Halton Council aspiration since time began - this will be better than building a road to nowhere on land that has no planning permission - Cllr Polhill?
"Development could lower their house prices" - these words were uttered in court by QC Vincent Fraser who Halton Council employed (at probably a significant cost to the tax payer) to fight the Halebank Parish Council and refers to homes in the Halebank area affected by the Amazon Shed. I wasn't involved in the court case or with Halebank Parish Council but these words spoken by QC Vincent Fraser on behalf of Halton Council scared me witless. I moved to Halebank with the buzz word in the air of regeneration - it hasn't happened. The last thing I want to see is Halton Borough Council going about purposely trying to reduce my house price even further in place of securing 1000 jobs - and everyone blaming Halebank Parish Council for 'scuppering' 1000 jobs need to wait for QC Vincent Fraser on behalf of Halton Council to come knocking on their door saying they've found an alternative site for the Amazon Shed and see how quick you jump? What I am looking forward to is Halton Council using the £5.4m funds they now have towards a HGV Relief Road which has been a long term Halton Council aspiration since time began - this will be better than building a road to nowhere on land that has no planning permission - Cllr Polhill? DeJeneration
  • Score: 0

6:18pm Wed 25 Jul 12

stueymol says...

hats off too Colin rowan the chair of hale bank parish council his comments are spot on our council has ridden roughshod over Halton people for years, the toll on the bridge, the secure unit by the eight towers,the incinerator,both Runcorn and Widnes the council should represent us and not there selves but they do.
hats off too Colin rowan the chair of hale bank parish council his comments are spot on our council has ridden roughshod over Halton people for years, the toll on the bridge, the secure unit by the eight towers,the incinerator,both Runcorn and Widnes the council should represent us and not there selves but they do. stueymol
  • Score: 0

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