Our photographer was stunned at the size of the Florida Farm Development, it is vast. Most of us see the proposed site (on your right towards Liverpool just past the industrial estate between two sets of traffic lights) as a field off the East Lancashire road. This image taken from the north of the site shows the scale in its true light. Remember less than a mile away to the other side of Haydock Island is proposed another warehousing site equal in scale.
Green Belt campaigners say “they will not give in until every avenue has been explored” after St Helens Council granted planning approval for a controversial warehouse development at Florida Farm North.
For the last eleven months members of the Residents Against the Florida Farm Development (RAFFD) have been opposing plans by Bericote Properties to develop a 1.4 million sq. ft. logistics park on 85 acres of Green Belt land in Haydock.
The speculative development which is close to residential properties is expected to generate thousands of commercial vehicles each day and operate on a 24 hour basis.
Concerned residents submitted almost 2,000 letters objecting to the development of Green Belt land. Issues raised by residents included the permanent harm to the Green Belt, loss of wildlife habitat, impacts on the rural landscape, traffic congestion, increased air pollution, noise levels, night time illumination and flood risk. Bericote say they are investing £150m and that the development will create the equivalent of 2,500 full time jobs for local people.
For miles around there is strong evidence of local opposition such as this.
See below, local communities are organising a fund for a judicial review of legal process within St Helens Council in relation to the development.
New development on Green Belt land can only be permitted where “very special circumstances” can be demonstrated. Current National and Local Authority planning policies protect the Green Belt from “inappropriate development”. Therefore, the decision made by the Planning Committee to allow the development had to be referred to the Secretary of State. After a lengthy delay the Minister for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid decided not to hold a public inquiry and referred the decision to develop the Green Belt back to St Helens Council.
However, whilst the Secretary of State was still deciding the Florida Farm proposals, Peel Holdings Ltd submitted a planning application to build a similar warehouse scheme on 104 acres of Green Belt land next to Haydock Park Racecourse.
In addition to prime agricultural land the site also has woodland and coppice in the spring these are carpeted by Bluebells. In addition to amenity and public footpaths for well being woodland and vegetation also serves another critical function it absorbs and protects against harmful air quality. Removing this protection and adding substantially to the volume of traffic is a potential health risk factor.
The combined impacts on traffic congestion and air pollution created by the two developments had not been taken into consideration when the Florida Farm plans had conditionally been approved in January. This forced the Council to defer the decision and reassess the proposals with regard to the warehouse plans at Haydock Point.
Local campaigners had hoped that the Planning Committee would have had the final say on the matter. Hope however, turned to disappointment when the formal decision announced on 27th April to approve the development was made by way of Delegated Powers and without a being voted on by the Planning Committee.
The chairman of the Residents Against the Florida Farm Development, Paul Parkinson told members;
“This Council ignored the concerns of 2000 objectors and granted a planning application that will blight our Borough forever and put at risk the health and well being of the hundreds of residents who will have to live in close proximity to this abomination. They have again brushed those concerns under the carpet by dealing with it in this underhand and unsatisfactory manner. They are destroying the Greenbelt and the habitats of protected species in an attempt to cover up their own incompetence over several decades. The additional traffic and pollution generated by this development will add further chaos to the already congested East Lancashire Road/M6 junction. The M6 through the Borough is an Air Quality Management Area because the pollution exceeds World Health Organisation guidelines. The St Helens Labour council has a duty to work towards reducing those levels, not actively promote development that will make them worse.” This is also coming at a time when the government is actively addressing the traffic air quality danger. This is also add odds with the Labour party central office which recently described traffic air quality as “ Public health emergency” see here. It’s unclear how this aligns with the current council strategy”
RAFFD are now considering all available options which could involve a Judicial Review of the decision. Residents are raising funds for a potential legal challenge in the High Court and have already secured over £1,500 within three days.
The Peel Holdings planning application for a logistics development at Haydock Point is ongoing and no decision has yet been made. The Planning Officer for St Helens Council confirmed that public comments will be accepted up to the date when the Planning Committee meet to decide on the proposals. No date has yet been set for the meeting.
Our photographer captured this delightful Whitethroat on the site.
These are summer migrants from southern europe and northern / central africas. Florida Farm (as open countryside) is a popular haunt and nesting site for these and other migratory leaf warblers.
If you would to donate to the Florida Farm Fund for the Judicial Review you can donate as follows
Donations can be sent direct to FF bank account, details below, or donations in envelope can be handed into the Ski Shop on Liverpool Road.
Bank account number 48689378
Sort code 60-01-24