entrance to Weston Hall commercial complex off Main Road

Cheshire East planners are recommending a warehousing site in countryside near Crewe is given the go-ahead to operate 24/7 despite objections from residents and local councillors, writes Belinda Ryan.

The Weston Hall Commercial Complex on Main Road at Weston has a long-standing history of commercial use.

And in November 2018 Cheshire East granted permission for a change of use of the buildings and areas of hardstanding for storage and distribution, as well as the replacement of redundant buildings with new ones on the 2.7 hectare site.

The permission included a condition that the hours of operation, including delivery, be restricted to between 7.30am and 7pm Monday to Friday and from 8am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.

This was “to avoid noise from giving rise to significant adverse impacts on health, quality of life and amenity”.

Now an application has been submitted to Cheshire East by WSP Indigo to change the condition so the site can operate 24/7.

A report from the planning officer due to go before a southern planning committee, states the owners have carried out a marketing exercise to secure occupiers for the approved warehouse units.

“The applicant states that ‘unrestricted operation is required to attract a long-term operator to the site and also safeguard the landowner’s interests in the site’,” says the planning officer in the report.

The officer adds: “From an economic sustainability perspective, it is recognised that increased flexibility of 24/7 operations will potentially assist in attracting companies to locate to approved storage and distribution facilities (Class B8) at Weston Hall and sustain the long-term operation of the site.

“This would secure employment opportunities in the local area, and together with other economic benefits which would derive from that employment provision, is an important material consideration.”

The officer recommends the 24/7 operating hours be approved for a temporary two-year period.

The application is being heard by a committee rather being decided by an officer under delegated authority after it was ‘called in’ by ward councillors Steve Edgar (Haslington, Con) and Janet Clowes (Wybunbury, Con), who both object.

Weston Parish Council and Hough & Chorlton Parish Council have both objected as have two residents.

Two residents have supported the proposal.

Cllr Edgar states in the report: “The 24 hours operation from this site will seriously affect the residents of the houses at the entrance and also the residents of the new houses being built to the north.

“It is another attempt to industrialise the rural locations within the parish of Weston.”

Cllr Janet Clowes said that no consideration has been addressed to the impact of 24/7, 365 days a year operations on the wider rural area in terms of nocturnal noise or HGV movements through the 24 hour period.

She told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I have additional concerns regarding the lack of any business case to support the assertions of the application that without 24/7 operation the company is unable to function.”

The application will be heard at Wednesday’s (July 28) southern planning committee meeting at Sandbach Town Hall.

(Image courtesy of Google Maps)

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