PLANS to build nearly 500 homes in Widnes on land currently protected by the Green Belt have been criticised, amid fears over lack of infrastructure and loss of green space.

Redrow Homes has unveiled proposals for two new estates in the north of the town, with 442 properties earmarked for Mill Green Lane and a further 52 planned for land to the south of South Lane.

Both areas are currently in the Green Belt – a buffer area where development is restricted to protect against urban sprawl. But they have been earmarked for residential development in the council’s Delivery and Allocations Local Plan (DALP), a document which sets out the borough’s future planning strategy up to 2037.

Council leader Mike Wharton recently warned members the authority faced ‘difficult decisions’ over the borough’s Green Belt due to what he said was a lack of suitable space for new homes.

The DALP is yet to be passed, with a public consultation on a revised version due to close on January 21, but Redrow is already preparing detailed planning applications for both sites and is now consulting residents for their views.

Local resident Gary Clayton, said: “This came as a big shock to most people as there has been no previous mention of the development of the farming land at this site.”

He said that building new homes in addition to other planned developments in the area will put a strain on local infrastructure.

He added: “If these developments go ahead as planned it will have a massive detrimental effect on local services which are already stretched to their limits and cannot serve the local residents at present.”

Runcorn and Widnes World: Proposed estate layout near South Lane in Widnes. Picture provided by Redrow.Proposed estate layout near South Lane in Widnes. Picture provided by Redrow.

Ian Gilbert, planning director at independent planning consultants Barton Willmore, which is representing Redrow, said: “These sites are already proposed by Halton Borough Council for new residential growth within its emerging local plan.

“In drawing up that plan, the council is responsible for considering the provision of community infrastructure such as health services, schools and open space.

“We are engaging in pre-application discussions with the council to determine their expectations to help meet those needs and any contributions that may be required from Redrow to improve or expand existing services.”

He added: “As part of the consultation, we welcome feedback from the local community about their experiences of local services, including road safety and the availability of play space, which will help to inform our approach.”

Comments can me made via email at or by calling 0161 817 4900. Closing date for comments is January 21.