MP Faisal Rashid fears releasing green belt land to build a distribution hub in south Warrington could set a 'worrying precedent' and 'open the floodgates'.

The public are being asked to comment on proposals to construct the new strategic employment site, which would be named Six 56 Warrington.

If built, the development would be located adjacent to junction 20 of the M6 and junction nine of the M56 in Lymm.

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

But it would see a huge chunk of the borough’s green belt land released.

Developer Langtree and partner First Pannatoni, who are behind the proposals, say the hub will deliver 4,900 jobs.

However, Warrington South MP Mr Rashid outlined his concerns in a letter to council chief executive Steven Broomhead.

The Labour politician said: "I am concerned to hear about these proposals given the fact that they are in the existing defined green belt.

"I am further concerned about these proposals given the fact that the consultation process on the next stage of drawing up the new local plan for Warrington does not commence until 2019.

"My position on development in the green belt remains the same as was outlined in my response to the council’s preferred development option consultation last year.

"I firmly believe that the green belt should be protected from development wherever possible.

"I have real concerns about proposals which seek to earmark significant areas of the green belt for large-scale development.

"I am concerned about proposals to alter the designation of areas of green belt land in our town.

"I also have concerns about the loss of green open spaces that are real community assets, much-loved by residents.

"The green belt is intended to stop urban sprawl and to stop encroachment of the countryside.

"National planning policy on the green belt is clear.

"This land should only be developed in the most exceptional of circumstances.

"It should be protected from development wherever possible.

"Such exceptional, or very special circumstances, are not demonstrated in these proposals.

"Should this land be released from the green belt, I am concerned that this could set a worrying precedent for the future of other areas of our protected green space, potentially opening the floodgates for further changes to our green belt policy.

"I understand that locally there is opposition to these proposals due to the loss of countryside, impact on ecology, including protected species, transport congestion, noise and air pollution.

"I share these concerns.

"There are substantial health benefits in accessing this land for recreation and leisure purposes and, ultimately, this land can improve quality of life for residents.

"I believe that giving the go-ahead for large areas of green belt land to be developed is not the right approach for Warrington South and that it ignores the wishes of many people."

Two workshops are being held at Grappenhall Community Centre at Bell House Farm, on Bellhouse Lane, next week.

They take place on Monday, from 5pm to 7pm, and Tuesday, from 2pm to 4pm.

Cllr Ryan Bate (LD – Grappenhall) has also responded to the plans.

He said: "We knew the Six 56 proposals have been in the pipeline after the environmental impact assessment earlier this year but the timing and nature of this consultation are most unwelcome.

"The draft local plan is still being finalised and to take these proposals, especially such substantial ones, on a piecemeal basis is both unproductive and incredibly upsetting for residents.

"The loss of green belt, impact on traffic and effect on surrounding villages are bad enough taken alone but with no wider context from the local plan people are completely in the dark.

"There is no need for this application to come forward now, let's wait to find out what the local plan says and make a decision in context and in the best interests of residents."

Steph Davies, leader of Warrington and Halton Green Party, has also raised fears.

She said: "Once the green belt is built upon it is gone forever.

"Our health and wellbeing are at stake.

"One day we will look out the window and there will be no green spaces left – just a legacy of concrete and pollution.

"This is not the kind of Warrington that I want for our community.

"The local plan needs to be torn up.

"Decisions about planning and development need to be made by the communities themselves and green spaces cannot be sacrificed to make way for executive homes.

"Warrington needs more affordable homes and there are enough brownfield sites available for this kind of development."