The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is set to call in plans for the UK’s biggest business park, the £1bn Omega development at Warrington, Cheshire. The 7.4m sq ft proposed Omega business park is two-thirds the size of Manchester and aims to create over 2,400 jobs over 25 years.
The scheme is backed by landowner, English Partnerships. Miller Developments and Royal Bank of Scotland have already submitted outline plans for the first two phases, totalling 3.2m sq ft.
The decision to call in the plans was prompted by concern over the impact of the business park on neighbouring cities and local transport infrastructure. The development site is midway between Liverpool and Manchester and there are growing concerns that the scheme could divert investment away from the two cities.
Liverpool City Council said that it had raised objections to the scheme because it did not conform to regional planning guidance and did not support the priority regeneration areas in Liverpool and Manchester.
Manchester City Council said that the plans were “not sustainable” and “not a reflection of regional economic priorities.”
The Highways Agency is also thought to have objected, claiming that the nearby M62 motorway would not be able to cope with the increased traffic.
Omega is the biggest of the 26 strategic regional sites earmarked for regeneration by the North West Development Agency. The sites are intended to reflect the spatial development framework detailed by the ODPM in regional planning guidance for the North West, issued in March 2003.
A public inquiry could be hugely embarrassing for the NWDA, which views Omega as its flagship regeneration project. An inquiry would delay the project or maybe even stop it going ahead altogether.