PLANS for a £75 million motorway service station on the M62 – including a 100-bed hotel – have been refused.

Extra MSA’s application seeking outline permission for the site to the north of junction 11 at Birchwood came before the development management committee during its meeting at the Parr Hall this evening, Wednesday.

The committee had been recommended to approve the proposals subject to conditions and a section 106 planning obligation.

If the scheme was given the green light, the decision would have been subject to HS2 Ltd removing a holding objection and the secretary of state not wishing to intervene.

During the meeting, members were informed that the objection was set to be lifted imminently.

The site would have included an amenity building up to 4,500 sq m including food and drink outlets, retail units, communal seating, toilets and showers.

The development would have also comprised a hotel with 80 to 100 beds, a service yard, fuel filling station, electric charging station and parking facilities.

An indicative layout of the proposed site was shown to committee members during the meeting.

Officers said the proposed development is considered to be inappropriate development in the green belt, so consideration must be given to whether very special circumstances exist and whether these would be sufficient to outweigh the harm to the green belt.

Highway considerations were also assessed. But it was been deemed that there would be no unacceptable impact, with the proposed mitigation including installation of traffic signal control and financial contributions for active travel improvement measures.

Committee member Cllr Mark Jervis (CON – Appleton) said there are hotels within a mile of the proposed location and questioned whether there are very special circumstances for one at the site.

He said: “I have got many issues but I will pick on one of the issues, really, this is a development on green belt. Why does there have to be a hotel on there?”

The applicant confirmed that it has done an assessment – and the budget hotel has been proposed to form part of the motorway service area offer.

The central part of the case for very special circumstances was the public safety need, which the proposals aimed to to address, and the lack of alternative non-green belt sites that could address this need.

Cllr Ryan Bate (LD – Grappenhall) said a ‘huge amount’ of the decision seems to be going on Government guidance.

He said he thinks the application as it stands ‘might meet a safety need’ but that it could be argued that it goes beyond that, while emphasising meeting safety need must be done respectfully to the community.

Concerns were raised over the impact on green belt, the loss of openness and residential amenity.

The scheme was turned down by members on the grounds that very special circumstances do not outweigh the harm caused by the development.

The masterplan included parking provision for 536 light vehicles, 105 HGV spaces, one abnormal load HGV space, 16 coach spaces, 15 car plus caravan or motorhome trailer spaces and 15 motorcycle spaces.

Meanwhile, the applicant’s submission said there would be a £75 million capital investment between 2021-22, 97 full-time equivalent construction jobs and 228 full-time equivalent jobs created on site after construction.

The three new Conservative borough councillors in the Culcheth, Glazebury and Croft ward have expressed their relief at the decision to reject the application.

Cllr Wendy Maisey said: "This is a victory for common sense and for the green belt in and around our ward.  

"There was a recommendation for the committee to approve the development subject to some conditions, so we are delighted with the result. 

"Only last month we were elected on a promise to protect the green belt surrounding our villages and we intend to keep that promise to our residents.

"We are fully aware that the applicant has the right to appeal this decision and will be keeping abreast of the case and any future developments.

"We will continue to work closely cross party with Culcheth & Glazebury and Croft Parish Councils who also oppose this development."

Cllr Val Allen added: “This development in green belt would have brought even more traffic to the area.

"We are still awaiting the results from the Parkside and Haydock public inquiry on the proposed developments, all these applications need to be considered together, air pollution is already high across the M6/M62 corridor without adding more vehicle movements."