Controversial warehouse scheme to create 1,200 jobs granted planning permission

St Helens council has granted planning permission for a warehouse operation at the Omega scheme in Bold, despite strong objections on environmental grounds.

The proposal, by Liverpool-based TJ Morris, trading as Home Bargains, will create 700 jobs by the end of the first year of operations, rising to more than 1,200 jobs when it reaches full capacity.

Discount retailer Home Bargains, which last year announced plans to double its stores portfolio to 1,000, said the scheme is the biggest single investment in its 45-year trading history and is pivotal to its future.

Director of innovation, Joe Morris, said: “It is strategically important for our future growth and survival.

“We plan to create one of the most advanced distribution centres in the world.

“Nearly 700 jobs will be created at the end of the first year of operation and this will increase to over 1,200 when at full operating capacity.

“Many of these jobs are highly skilled and highly sought after. I would ask you to support our major investment in St Helens.”

The proposed 2,210,500 sq ft scheme is on land to the west of Omega South and in the green belt, including 75 hectares of arable farmland.

It is also in the Bold Forest Area Action Plan boundary and will result in the loss of 56,339 sq metres of of woodland and trees.

However, TJ Morris argued “very special circumstances” in its application.

The council received 118 independent letters of objection during the planning process as well as objections from parish councils in St Helens and Warrington.

Cllr Christopher Hughes from Bold Parish Council told last night’s planning meeting that the scheme was in “direct conflict” with the adopted Bold Forest Park Area Action Plan, and should be rejected.

He added: “You and the committee have the power to say no to environmental destruction for financial gain and invest in a green future for the benefit of all.”

However, following a vote, the committee granted planning permission, subject to a Section 106 agreement and the Secretary of State not wishing to intervene.

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