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  Current Parkside Status

Current Parkside Status 

First the good news. Prologis finally exited from the scene (hooray!). They finally got it. Parkside is going to take a heck of lot of effort and money to develop with a lot of risk. So enter now into the arena St Helens Council with their buddies Langtree Developments. This crew think they know much more about shed developments than a multi-million dollar property developer like Prologis. Prologis must have been laughing all the way to the bank when Langtree stumped up £6M to relieve them of the land late last year. Even Langtree must have thought it was a good deal because St Helens Council lent them the money! Yes would you believe it, lent a developer public money. In a time of austerity when Council services and jobs are under pressure, the Council saw it fit to speculate £6M on a piece of land that a multi-million dollar developer walked away from after multiple attempts at coming up with a scheme that would work. Of course all the old messages and promises are back on the table about a new scheme, thousands of jobs that grow in numbers by the day. The first step it appears for our new ‘hot’ team has been to tidy up the site entrance (see picture above). There surely can’t be many objections to that as it was quite an eye sore before.

So what do we know about what is actually planned? At the recent AGM of the Newton-Le-Willows Residents Association Cllr Seve Gomez-Asperon provided some snippets of information to the attendees:

    • - The Council purchased the site out of Capital rather than Revenue, which is not subject to Government caps (so that makes it OK then!)

      - Langtree are looking for suitable clients for the site.

      - The Department of Transport were in favour of making changes to the motorway junction M6 J22.

      - The area of land purchased was previously that owned by the former colliery i.e. the land to the West of the M6. The Prologis proposal previously aimed to develop an equivalent amount of land to the East of the M6.

      - Although the St Helens LDF Core Strategy specified that only a Freight Terminal could be developed at the site, the Strategy could be changed. This was an absolutely amazing statement given that it took over 3 years to develop the Core Strategy with the Freight Terminal being pivotal to it and entwined throughout the entire documentation set.

There has so far been no public consultation about a new scheme from the Council. We continue to see a ‘cloak and daggers’ approach with leaked snippets of information, and referral to the developer for anything that is seen as sensitive.

We are told a new master plan for a rail freight terminal may follow as early as the summer this year. It will be interesting to see how the Council work around all the challenges of the site that Prologis a huge multi-national shed developer completely failed to do.

Why Did Prologis Really Abandon the Site and What Has Langtree Taken On?

The site presents some unique development challenges:

- Management of Methane Gas emanating from the site
- Sealing the pit heads properly
- Moving the huge old slag heap
- Funding major modifications to motorway network in support of a site road connection (pinch points on both M6 & M62 impacting J22)
- Finding a solution which will not impact the local road network. A motorway connection will not necessarily prevent significant volumes of site traffic from impacting local roads should site users wish to use local roads instead. Prologis previously planned to modify 17 local road junctions, implement a new M6 slip road, and hard shoulder running on both the M6 and M62. Prologis went through 3 major traffic assessments costing in excess of £250,000.
- Remediating air quality impacts adjacent to two Air Quality Management Areas
- Relocating Newton Park Farm listed buildings
- Demonstrating ‘very special circumstances’ required to develop on Green Belt Land
- Providing remediation for the destruction of wildlife habits that are now well established across the site.
- Complying with all criteria in CAS 3.2 in the St Helens Local Development Framework
- Demonstrating the need for a Freight Terminal at the location given that Trafford Park, Port Salford, Ditton, and the Port of Liverpool in total have an abundance of freight handling capacity for the foreseeable future.
- Ensuring sufficient rail capacity given the incremental rise in rail commuting over the last few years
- Pacifying fierce local community opposition to a Rail Freight Terminal over the last 10+ years  

Local Planning Policy

There is currently no active planning application for Parkside. The previous planning application was withdrawn by the developer Prologis in 2010.

For the last few years the Council have been developing and consulting on a new local planning policy called the Local Development Framework (LDF) which will set planning guidelines for the St Helens Borough for future years. All planning applications will need to adhere to the new planning policy. Planning Policy CAS 3.2 sets out the provision for a freight terminal at the site of the former colliery at Parkside and land extending far in excess of the original colliery boundaries. Even though PAG lobbied extensively for the removal of the policy with community support (over 9000 objections were lodged), an inspector ruled that the policy should remain. Although this was disappointing PAG managed to influence and shape the policy to prevent the preemptive removal of Green Belt bounaries and set specific criteria that a developer must meet before an application could be approved.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 08 June 2014 )