RAIL giant Alstom UK has applied for permission to build a 560,000 sq ft transport and technology facility at HBC Field at Halebank in Widnes.

If approved, the development will take place over three phases and will include
access roads, car parking, HGV parking, service yards, rail sidings, landscaping, substation and associated engineering operations.

The facility would include space for the assembly, maintenance and repair of trains that would access the site via the West Coast Main Line link to the north, as well as a training academy.

The site forms forms the western area of the Mersey Multimodal Gateway/ Ditton Strategic Rail Freight Park as formerly defined by the Halton Unitary Development Plan (UDP), but now by current Core Strategy Policy CS8.

Council officers have recommended approval of the proposal subject to conditions.

However, several objections have been raised against the scheme. They include claims that the soil and ponds on the site are contaminated, as well as fears over increases in HGV traffic in the area.

Objectors also point to the threat to wildlife, including swans, lapwings, frogs, hedgehogs and rabbits.

There is also opposition to works currently being undertaken on the site which include drilling/boreholes, fencing which has been erected in the park area, and that 4×4 vehicles are churning up the park area.

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