Developer to re-examine employment park plans following planning committee refusal

The proposed entrance to Haydock Point

Members of the St Helens Council planning committee have rejected proposals for a multimillion-pound employment park.

The scheme, proposed by developer Peel L&P, is still to be presented at a public inquiry, scheduled for next February.

Peel said the Haydock Point Employment Park would represent an investment of around £160m, create up to 2,500 full time equivalent jobs and training and apprenticeship opportunities for local people.

But in May the scheme was called in by the Secretary of State for further scrutiny.

Richard Knight, director of land and communities at Peel L&P, said at the time: “We’ll continue to engage with officers and hope the plans can be considered locally in due course.”

However, despite planning officers determining that very special circumstances outweighed the harm the scheme would inflict on the green belt, councillors disagreed.

Following the scheme’s rejection, Mr Knight said: “We are disappointed that the planning committee has decided against the officer recommendation and opposed the plans for Haydock Point Employment Park.

“Despite this, there are many positives to take in respect of a largely agreed position over the need for, and benefits of, the scheme.

“The proposals can deliver a substantial economic boost to St Helens, including an £11.4m investment in J23 of the M6 and support a wide range of jobs and apprenticeships for local people during a time of economic uncertainty.”

He said: “An overriding concern around landscape impact was unexpected after several years of working with the council towards a positive outcome.

“Nonetheless, we will have a look to see what can be done to address that single issue and we look forward to continued working with local stakeholders and presenting the proposals to the planning inspector, in order to ensure that St Helens does not miss the opportunity to unlock substantial investment in the borough.”

The proposals for Haydock Point Employment Park will be worth £159m each year to the economy annually, said Peel L&P, in addition to a £10m-plus investment for improving the highway network around junction 23 of the M6.

Once fully built, the development is expected to deliver £3.5m Business Rates per annum, of which £1.75m would be retained in St Helens under current retention levels.