WARRINGTON Borough Council says it does not recognise ‘any change in risk’ over receiving rent from Eddie Stobart amid the problems facing the logistics giant.

The company’s revised application to construct a £75 million national distribution centre in south Warrington was approved by the development management committee in July.

It is set to be built on land north of Barleycastle Lane, opposite the firm’s existing headquarters at Stretton Green Distribution Park.

But the secretary of state will decide whether to call the application in or not.

It was the firm’s second application after the first was turned down, a decision which it appealed.

The appeal will be heard by a Government planning inspector this month.

The public inquiry will open at the Town Hall at 10am on October 15. It is scheduled to be held over four days.

The appeal hearing will lead to a recommendation by the inspector to the secretary of state.

As reported in August, Eddie Stobart suspended trading of its shares and announced its chief executive Alex Laffey was standing down with immediate effect.

It came as the firms looked into accounting discrepancies after revealing a £2 million error in its 2018 results.

And it has now been reported that it is preparing for crunch talks with lenders in the face of accounting difficulties.

The council completed a £26.1 million deal to buy Eddie Stobart’s headquarters at Stretton Green Distribution Park last year.

The deal is expected to see the company pay the council around £1.2 million a year in rent, which the authority can use to deliver services.

Cllr Ryan Bate, who is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Warrington South, has put forward his views on the matter.

He said: “I think there are two separate issues, we have to look at the planning issue and we have to look at the viability of a significant Warrington-based company, which is also a tenant of a borough council-owned site.

“What is the risk to the council’s investment in the current Stobart headquarters site?

“Obviously, the planning system doesn’t grant planning permission to a business, it grants it to a plot of land.

“What provisions and safeguards are there for the local authority granting permission to site where so much of the case is linked to a business, who might not eventually develop the site?

“I think there are big question marks there.

“Will any other business deliver the economic impact that Stobart promised? I am not so sure.

“Although people are concerned by Stobart’s financial situation, any other developer is bound by any planning commitments which formed a part of the approved planning permission.

“An inquiry is critical now – it is our best chance to stop Stobart’s and ensure strategic planning decisions are taken as part of the local plan process.

“I persuaded colleagues on South Warrington parishes to increase our efforts on an inquiry by putting a barrister in, alongside the planning consultant.”

The Warrington Guardian has pressed the council on the issue, including over the rental payments from the firm.

A spokesman said: “As is the case with all property investments undertaken by the council, prior to completing the acquisition, the council undertook extensive due diligence and does not recognise any change in risk in receiving its return on that investment.”

Eddie Stobart did not wish to comment.