NOISE from a chemical plant could mean homeowners of a proposed new development in Runcorn could be forced to keep their windows closed at all times.

The 243-home development, proposed for a former Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) site between Tan House Lane and the St Helens Canal, is due to be discussed by Halton Council's development control committee on November 4.

But neighbouring industries have claimed developers Mulbury Homes and Magenta Living have "failed to consider" the impact of their factories on future residents, who might be affected by "accidental release of dangerous substances, explosions and fires" from the surrounding area.

ICoNiChem, a chemical manufacturer based barely 200 yards from the edge of the proposed development, said in an objection submitted to the council that Mulbury Homes had "failed to appreciate the nature of the locality generally" as an industrial area.

The key issue for ICoNiChem and neighbouring insulation manufacturer Unifrax is noise.

Both companies used their objection letters to point to significant noise levels at their plants, which operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

A council officer's report prepared for the development control committee added that the noise from the plants was "clearly audible" and "likely to cause a statutory nuisance for future residents once they open the windows at night."

Councils are legally required to take action to curb statutory nuisances like excessive noise, meaning operations at the two plants could be curtailed or stopped altogether.

ICoNiChem, which employs 64 people locally and sources supplies from the local area, said it was "deeply concerned as to what the effects a residential development could have not just on any potential expansion, but in the continued existence of the plant in the Widnes area."

However, the council officer's report suggested a solution could be found in requiring the developer to fit non-opening windows to the bedrooms most affected by the noise, along with air conditioning units to regulate temperature.

The report concluded: "It follows that this fundamental noise problem can be alleviated."

Among the other concerns raised by ICoNiChem were the "relatively frequent" fires in the area.

The company pointed to a tyre fire in Desoto Road in May this year and major fires at the Unifrax site in 2017 and PR Pallet Services in 2015.

Since ICoNiChem submitted its objection, there has been another significant fire, this time in Tan House Lane itself, on Tuesday that sent smoke billowing over the industrial estate.

ICoNiChem said: "Such incidents are to be expected in an industrial area, but sensitive receptors like residential areas would not expect the same and the natural result would be significant effects on amenity."

The company also warned of the dangers of "accidental release of dangerous substances, explosions and fires" in the area surrounding Mulbury Homes' site.

The development control committee will consider the application on November 4, but officers have recommended councillors do not make a final decision then, instead delegating authority to a senior officer and the committee's chairman.

On the same day, the committee will also consider an application from Galliford Try Partnerships and Homes England to build 236 homes and 100 "extra care" apartments on fields south-east of Sandymoor.

More than 50 residents wrote to object to the plans, citing concerns about loss of greenfield land, a lack of facilities and whether the sheltered living accommodation was necessary.

However, a report prepared ahead of the committee meeting noted that the site had been allocated for housing in the local plan process 10 years ago, although a few issues relating to the impact on neighbouring Bog Wood were still to be resolved.

The report concluded: "The principle of development is however considered acceptable and outstanding matters are considered predominantly of a minor or technical nature.

"It is therefore not possible to make a final determination at this time.

"To avoid delay in presenting to a future Committee and avoid the planning process being blamed for delaying construction of much needed housing the application is being reported to committee at the earliest opportunity. Members will be updated orally as required."

Councillors are not expected to make a final decision on this application either, instead delegating that decision to a council officer and the committee chairman.