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Warrington green belt housing plans backed by council

Green belt land near Appleton
Image caption More than 5,000 homes could be built on green belt land near Appleton

A plan to build thousands of homes on green belt land in Warrington has been approved by councillors at a meeting.

Warrington Borough Council's Local Plan will see 18,900 homes built by 2037, including 7,064 on green belt land.

The Labour-run council's leader Russ Bowden said building in rural areas was an "absolute last resort".

Campaigner Helen Gurnani, who protested outside the meeting, said there was a "need to preserve" the land for "public health" and "environmental" reasons.

Image caption Campaigners protested against the plan outside Warrington Town Hall on Monday

The authority was forced to draw up a new plan in 2017 after its last one was overturned by a legal challenge, and the new proposals saw the target for green belt land cut back.

The proposals were approved by the council, despite opposition from Liberal Democrats and Conservatives.

Six Labour councillors, who represent areas near Peel Hall - where 1,200 homes are proposed despite a government inspector's ruling last year that the site was unsuitable for housing - abstained from voting.

The wider plan will also see a number of large builds on both green belt and brownfield land, including 5,000 homes in a new "garden suburb" near the M6 Lymm interchange at Appleton, 1,600 on land near the River Mersey and 1,100 around Lymm, Culcheth, Burtonwood and other villages.

Liberal Democrat Ryan Bate said the plan would "make lives poorer and destroy our environment", while Ms Gurnani said she understood the need for "social housing on brownfield land, but we need to preserve our green spaces for environmental and public health reasons".

The council said a consultation would now be held on the plan before it is reviewed by a government inspector.

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