A MAJOR redevelopment which will see the building of a 25,295 square foot retail park in Workington has been approved, following an appeal to the planning inspectorate.

Councillors on the former Allerdale Borough Council planning committee refused the application to build a mixed use retail development, which would include hot and cold food takeaways and mixed retail use on land west of the Derwent Howe retail park, due to wildlife concerns, back in July 2022.

The councillors were particularly sympathetic to environmentally-minded residents who were concerned about the impact the development would have on the small blue butterfly.

At the time the application went through Allerdale Borough Council, butterfly expert Steve Doyle said the site was an important habitat for blue butterflies but also other species as well: “We need to respect diversity and that’s now being respected worldwide, not just in Workington," he said.

"This wildlife corridor is part of Workington’s heritage, it’s been used by wildlife for many decades as part of our heritage in Workington.”

However, applicant Andrew Street from Port Derwent Properties Ltd submitted an appeal to the government planning inspectorate following the decision.

In December, the government-appointed planning inspector Caroline Mulloy decided that the appeal was to be granted, deciding that plans for the site could go ahead subject to conditions she had placed on the application.

In a report, Ms Mulloy said: "I have concluded that with suitable mitigation secured by condition, that the proposal would not have an adverse impact on the ecology and wildlife biodiversity value of the site and would provide a net gain in biodiversity.

"The proposal would also make efficient use of a previously developed site in an accessible location. I attach significant weight to these benefits."

It was also deemed that the new commercial park would have 'significant' economic benefits for Workington, with the possible creation of 75 new permanent jobs in the town.

The inspector said: "The mixed-use retail proposal would bring significant economic benefits including interest from a national retailer which could generate 75 permanent jobs.

"The proposal would generate benefits for the local economy in the short term during the construction phase and in the longer term. I attach significant weight to these economic benefits."

A spokesman for Port Derwent Properties Ltd said: "Port Derwent Properties Ltd are delighted with decision of the Planning Inspectorate APP/G0908/W/22/3311802  to allow the development of the old railway line site, which has lain derelict for several years and acts as a magnet for fly tipping etc.

"The development of this large brownfield site, which is in close proximity to the Derwent Howe Retail Park in Derwent Drive, will provide a much needed boost to employment in the area.

"The Planning Inspectorates recommendations regarding ecology mitigation measures will be fully respected during the development of the site and our planning consultants and advisors will take these matters into consideration whilst completing the proposed development plans."

Cumberland Council spokesperson said: “The appeal related to a decision taken by Allerdale Borough Council. A decision has now been taken by the Planning Inspectorate to approve the application, subject to conditions.

"The decision has been accepted by the council and has been reported back to our planning committee.”