THE Orford Park Project reached a major milestone last week when councillors granted outline planning permission for the £30million development. The final plans came before Warrington Borough Council’s development control committee on Thursday where councillors voted unanimously to approve them.

Their decision means that the project can keep moving on. It is expected that final planning permission will be granted in December, at which point work on the roads nearby will start.

Parts of the project have already been finished, like the new children’s play area.

But also in the plans are a library, ICT suite, community activity and meeting rooms, café, swimming pools, health and fitness centres, dance studios, squash courts, sports hall, sports shop, a crèche and educational facilities.

Outside there will be walking and cycling paths around the new grass pitches, skateboarding and BMX cycling parks, bowling greens, a pavilion, an athletics track and football pitches.

The area will be lit and CCTV installed.

The main construction phase is due to start next May and finish in November 2011.

Winwick Road will be developed to make access to the site much easier.

It will be Winwick Road that will bear the brunt of extra traffic to the park, particularly at its junction with Long Lane.

Improvements to the roads are ‘highly likely’ to be finished by the time the new park opens.

£750,000 has been committed to the improvements.

You can see site and floor plans from Monday, October 5, to Friday, October 16, at the following locations: l Customer Contact Centre l Longford Neighbourhood Services Centre l Orford Library l Orford Neighbourhood Project Office l Warrington Library l Planning Department Reception l Fordton Leisure Centre l Town Hall Reception l Select Soccer l Orford Park Community Outreach Centre You can discuss the plans with the project team at the following meetings: l October 5, Fordton Leisure Centre, 10am to noon l October 5, Select Soccer, 6-8pm.

l October 15, Orford Library, 10am to noon l October 15, Warrington Library, 2-4pm At Thursday’s meeting councillors heard from two objectors.

The first, a cyclist, was concerned that the new access at Winwick Road would prohibit cyclists’ access to cycle paths as staggered crossings would cause them to wait at central reservations while crossing the road.

Cyclists are near the top of a policy ‘hierarchy’ that encourages other means of transport, the meeting was told, but there is a need for balance between drivers and cyclists.

“It is ideal to have a straight access route without a central section but we have to balance that against the efficiency of the junction,” said Duncan Richardson, principal leisure manager.

A resident of Hallfields Road complained about the location of the skateboarding park, but was assured it would be moved 150 yards away from the houses.

“The noise from this activity will be horrendous and the quality of our life will be affected enormously,” she said, adding that it ‘fills us with dread’.

“Our council tax reflects the privilege of overlooking a park and we would expect a considerable reduction in our rates as we would never be able to sell our homes,” she said.

Extra parking on Hallfields Road would also cause problems, she said, but since there is considerable parking space on site councillors rejected the argument.

Other complaints said the swimming pool was not fit for purpose, but the Swimming Association has said the design meets its requirements.

When councillors passed the plans they imposed a condition stating that Warrington labour must be used during the construction. It means the project will boost Warrington’s industry.

The park will provide a central point in Warrington where people can access almost everything they need at once.

NHS Warrington is hoping to be able to house three GP practices, its lifestyles team and a pharmacy but isawaiting the second stage of planning permission.

People living in the inner wards of Warrington have lower life expectancy and are less likely to be active and healthy than those in the outer wards and it is hoped that by having community sport and education facilities readily available the lifestyles of residents might change.

Pupils at neighbouring William Beamont Sports College will be able to use the pitches and athletics track during school.