Applicant Omega Warrington secured outline permission for a scheme that also includes a mixed-use zone expected to include shops, food and drink outlets, a hotel, an extra-care facility, and a community facility.
Officers advised that the 24-hectare Omega business park site was allocated for employment uses, and that the application therefore represented a departure from the current and emerging local plan. However, they recommended approval on the basis that office development was unlikely to be delivered on the site.
According to the officers’ report, a 2018 economic development needs assessment concluded that Warrington has a shortfall in office provision and found ongoing demand for industrial uses at the business park.
However, officers said the site has been marketed for office development since 2007 and agreed with the applicant that industrial uses were unlikely to be suitable due to homes nearby.
Officers added that Warrington is only able to demonstrate a 3.7-year supply of housing land. “Residential use is considered to be an acceptable alternative use for the site,” they said.
Councillors were advised that a previous outline consent granted permission for 1,100 homes alongside retail and commercial uses, including 317 dwellings on the application site, and that the new application therefore represented an net increase of 300 homes.
Officers said they were prepared to rely on a viability assessment considered under the extant permission to accept a 20 per cent affordable housing contribution.
The application is subject to a holding direction issued by the secretary of state, who is yet to decide whether the scheme should be referred to him for determination. The park's existing business tenants are unaffected.