PLANNING chiefs have approved plans for a new purpose-built bus depot in Warrington.

The scheme by Wire Regeneration’s – which is a partnership between Langtree and the council – will see Warrington’s Own Buses relocate its headquarters to land off Dallam Lane to allow it to be closer to the bus station at Golden Square.

The proposals were approved by the development management committee on Wednesday.

The existing depot, close to Wilderspool Causeway, would be demolished to pave the way for a new development if the plans are passed.

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The three-storey building would be home to around 220 members of staff, similar to the current operation.

Dallam Lane would provide the entry and exit points for buses, while Bewsey Road would be for cars – and only used by buses in an emergency.

The main building would include a workshop, offices and storage, with a secondary building to provide bus fuelling and washing facilities.

Both proposed buildings could accommodate the height of a double decker bus.

The demolition of the current depot is part of wider plans for that southern part of the town centre, known as the Southern Gateway,

The first project in its wider masterplan, a £25 million scheme which will see 160 new homes built on the site of the former Wilderspool stadium, was recently granted planning permission.

Langtree says the move to relocate the bus depot is the next major step in its plans and will free up a key site.

Planning officers believe new planting would also prevent a loss of all the ‘limited’ ecological value of the current site.

Cllr Judith Wheeler (LD – Appleton) commented on the matter.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Judith Wheeler

She said: “The residents of Bewsey Road, who will now overlook where the bus depot is, their view will probably not change.

“But I think anything that can be done improve the perimeter of the bus station is to be welcome. I think as much green planting as possible.”

Cllr Terry O’Neill (LAB – Burtonwood and Winwick), a former council leader, described the proposed scheme as a ‘planning gain’.

Cllr Bob Barr (LD – Lymm North and Thelwall), leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, added: “I also note that there were no objections from either neighbours or ward councillors, which I think for an application of this scale is significant and unusual.”

Commenting after the decision, council leader Cllr Russ Bowden said: “The decision to approve the new bus depot is good news for Warrington and the town centre.

“Relocating the depot is an important step to ensuring our plans for regenerating the town’s Southern Gateway can be realised, making effective use of the brownfield land available.

“The decision also means that colleagues at Warrington’s Own Buses have a more fit-for-purpose home.

“It’s important that we continue to invest in public transport services as they support our plans to alleviate town centre traffic and encourage more people to leave their cars at home.”

Neal Biddle, development director at Langtree, said the scheme will deliver ‘a number of major benefits to the town’.

And the decision was also welcomed by Warrington’s Own Buses managing director Ben Wakerley.

He said: “This is a vital next step in ensuring Warrington’s residents have the most efficient and technically advanced bus fleet as possible.

“The new depot will allow us to bolster our existing fleet with another 20 vehicles and, importantly, will enable us to improve working conditions for our dedicated team.”

The new depot is expected to be complete and operational by the summer of 2021 as the new home for Warrington’s Own Buses.