Amazon warehouse approval quashed

Posted: 7th September 2012

WarehousePlanning permission for a large storage and distribution warehouse in Cheshire - to be occupied by internet trading giant Amazon - has been overturned by a judge.

Proposals for the warehouse – which, if built, will be 430 metres long and 190 metres wide with floorspace of over 110,000 square metres - in Halebank, Cheshire, had caused much local protest and was also opposed by Halebank Parish Council.

Halton Borough Council (HBC), which owns the proposal site, granted planning conditional planning consent in September 2011 but that decision has now been overturned by specialist planning judge, Andrew Gilbart QC.

The judge said that HBC had deprived the parish council of a fair opportunity to participate in the consultation process and breached its legitimate expectation that it would be fully involved in the decision-making process.

HBC had also misinterpreted local development plan policies and appended unlawful conditions to the consent, he ruled.

Upholding the parish council's judicial review challenge, Judge Gilbart said: ‘The overall impression given of the conduct of the consultation by HBC is of an authority so determined to see this application for very substantial and potentially intrusive development permitted that it brushed aside any argument that a longer period for consultation was required.

‘It also conducted itself in such a way that it failed to inform anyone outside the authority, apart from the developer and its customer, that the actual time for consultation had been substantially reduced. I regard it as unusual in the extreme that a responsible local planning authority would consider that the bare minimum was enough time to address a proposal of this scale and complexity.

‘The haste with which HBC insisted that the application be dealt with can be gauged by the unfortunate way in which the parish council's requests for more time were dealt with.’

The judge also emphasised that the need for careful consultation was all the greater as the land is owned by HBC which will ‘receive a substantial sum from the developer’ if the project goes ahead.

The ruling means that HBC will have to consider the planning application afresh after a further consultation exercise and consideration of the planning merits.