The council has joined calls from communities in Warrington for a physical inquiry into Peel Hall.
Due to current coronavirus restrictions, it has been confirmed that the Planning Inspectorate intends to reopen the public inquiry remotely from Monday 14 September. This is the Inspectorate’s default position in light of coronavirus, with alternative arrangements only being made in exceptional circumstances.
The council considers the rationale for a physical inquiry into Peel Hall to be exceptional and reasonable given the history of the site and that there is a clear public expectation for continued matters around Peel Hall to be considered in a consistent way.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden, said: “I would like to respectfully ask the Planning Inspectorate to review their decision for this inquiry to be done digitally.
“To alter the process now for members of the public, particularly those who are already familiar with it, runs the risk of becoming a barrier to participation for many people. This matter has been ongoing for more than 30 years and so in my view, the stakes are too high to continue with the intention of a digital inquiry.
“We know through a digital inquiry people would be able to dial in to contribute, but it’s important to maintain a consistent approach with this highly complex and sensitive inquiry. Given the strength of feeling around Peel Hall, it is only right that the inquiry should be held physically. I’m confident alternative, safe arrangements can be made to ensure that a physical inquiry would be able to go ahead.”