WARRINGTON Borough Council has told developers 'it will be very important to gauge the views' of residents before submitting a planning application for a major 24-hour distribution hub.

As reported last month, Spawforths, on behalf of Langtree Property Partners and First Panattoni, will be submitting an outline planning application for the development of the site, which will be accompanied by an environmental statement.

It will propose the construction of up to 325,150m2 of employment floorspace on the land – adjacent to junction 20 of the M6 and junction 9 of the M56 at Lymm – following demolition work.

The land is bounded by Grappenhall Lane and Cliff Lane to the north, with the motorway slip road to the east.

A request for an environmental impact assessment (EIA) 'scoping opinion' was lodged to the council in February.

And the council has now issued a 'screening opinion', in which it has raised concerns over traffic and noise.

It also highlighted the need for consultation with the public, as well as councillors.

In the decision notice, the council said: "The local planning authority (LPA) have received a number of representations from residents/parish councils/councillors as part of the current scoping opinion request and it will be very important to gauge their views/take into account their concerns before submitting any formal planning application/EIA.

"The ward councillor has raised concerns about the loss of higher quality agricultural land and bearing in mind that potential loss, the LPA consider that an assessment of the impact of the loss of such land should be scoped into the final EIA for the site.

"In particular, the subsequent EIA will need to demonstrate that, in policy terms, the proposed development is not premature in the light of the status of the local plan and the current status of the land as green belt."

The land put forward by Spawforths falls within the 'garden city suburb' identified in the local plan preferred development option.

Following the receipt of a request, the council has a statutory requirement to provide a 'scoping opinion'.

It is a formal view on what issues an environmental statement, which a developer must prepare in support of any future planning application, should contain.

The 'screening opinion' is the authority's assessment of whether an environmental statement should be submitted with any future application.

Furthermore, a key aim of an EIA is to ensure that the public are given 'early and effective opportunities to participate in the decision-making procedures'.