COUNCIL officers have been accused of doing the ‘minimum’ to inform residents about major warehouse plans for green belt land at Omega in neighbouring St Helens.

The ‘hybrid’ application proposing the extension of the Omega site came before Warrington Borough Council’s (WBC) development management committee during its virtual meeting on Wednesday.

The authority has been consulted as the site is next to its boundary.

But the decision will be taken by St Helens Council (SHC) subject to referral to the secretary of state, who would decide whether to call it in.

The ‘hybrid’ application seeks full planning permission for the construction of a logistics warehouse with offices and car parking, along with outline permission for a manufacturing and logistics development with offices.

The full application requests approval for a purpose-built development for TJ Morris totalling 81,570 square metres, which would deliver a new site for Home Bargains. The three-storey structure would be up to 41 metres in height.

The full application site is located in the northern part of the wider application site, immediately to the south of the M62 and west of the existing Omega South development.

The outline part of the hybrid application is a largely a speculative proposal but includes an area for the future expansion of the TJ Morris site.

READ >> Residents' anger as 18-metre 'eyesore' warehouse towers over houses

Committee member Cllr Peter Carey said he wants the proposal to ‘go away’ and expressed concerns over motorists driving through residential areas when the M6 or M62 ‘gets clogged’.

He added: “What I am trying to get across to the officers is that this is a major set of proposals, combined with others that are going on in the area.

“The normal three-week turnaround that is being looked for is all well and good in respect of normal planning applications.

“These are not normal, these are massive in terms of their impact on the area.

“I think from that point of view we, as a council, need to be doing more.

“If not for the public, certainly for the members of this committee because such a lot is changing – we, as councillors who are making the decisions, need to be briefed to a much deeper level than we are being on major applications.”

Cllr Steve Wright also expressed concerns.

He said: “I think we should have had more time to look at it.

“I have made representations in the past about the way we alert people to things like this and we do the minimum I think.

“I think in matters like these we should go a bit further and try and make sure people are fully aware of what is being proposed, rather than just the basic minimum.”

Officers were asked about different aspects of the plans for the area during the meeting, including about the possibility of a new bridge over the M62 to connect the two sides of Omega.

Members were told there is a desire from WBC to create a crossing linking Omega North and Omega South, particularly for pedestrians and cyclists, and to ‘take away the barrier’ of junction 8.

It has been raised with Highways England and SHC, with WBC co-operating towards looking at the feasibility of it.

Members were informed that Highways England have appointed a consultant to carry out a study, although at the present time there is no ‘funding or commitment’ for the crossing.

It was recommended that no objection was raised over the application by the committee, partly because the development would provide a proportion of employment land that would contribute towards Warrington’s employment needs.

Members backed the recommendation and raised no objections subject to conditions, but with the requirement that consideration given to traffic, the height of the building and the impact on the green belt.

The recommendation was approved, with four councillors voting in favour and five abstaining.