‘DETAILED discussions’ are already taking place to bring the emerging local plan’s proposed garden suburb forward – despite the document not being approved.

It is one of the key development areas set out in the Labour-run council’s 20-year draft local plan but it would see huge chunks of green belt land in south Warrington ripped up and built on.

Appleton is located immediately to the west of the earmarked land and Grappenhall to the north – with the M56 and M6 bordering land to the south and east of it.

The suburb is planned to deliver 7,400 homes and a major new employment site at the junction of the M6 and M56.

If the plan is approved, around 5,100 homes would be built up until 2037, including around 4,200 on green belt land.

A further 2,300 homes would be constructed after 2037.

The council received more than 3,500 responses following a nine-week consultation on the draft document last year.

But the publication of the updated version has been delayed again, until after the all-out elections in May.

It means the local plan will not be submitted to the secretary of state and put before an inspector for independent examination until after then.

However, during the supporting the local economy policy committee meeting at the Town Hall on Tuesday, John Laverick, a senior figure in Warrington and Co’s development team, told councillors that officers continue to work with Homes England to bring the garden suburb ‘forward’.

Warrington Guardian:

Town Hall

Warrington and Co is the council’s economic development and regeneration arm.

Furthermore, in papers handed to committee members, it stated ‘detailed discussions have commenced in earnest’ between senior figures in Warrington and Homes England in relation to the viability and deliverability of the project.

It added Homes England has appointed a consultant team and is ‘progressing scheme development’ to support the deliverability and viability of the garden suburb.

But the update from Mr Laverick did not please Cllr Ryan Bate (LD – Grappenhall).

He said: “It concerns me deeply when the garden suburb is mentioned at these meetings when it has not yet been approved by the inspector in the local plan process – I will just leave my comment there.”

Mr Laverick did not comment further on the matter.

After the meeting, Cllr Bate said he believes it is ‘highly questionable’ for the council and Warrington and Co to be progressing the proposals before the final local plan has been examined and agreed.

Warrington Guardian:

Cllr Ryan Bate

He added: “There is a clear process for agreeing a local plan. Given the importance of the document for all aspects of our lives and futures, it is really important that this process is fair and transparent.

“It makes the council appear to be treating the garden suburb and the local plan as a fait accompli and does very little to gain the public’s trust in this most important of processes.”