A NEGLECTED farmyard in Hale village has been earmarked as the new headquarters of a booming Widnes rail firm.
Ramsbrook Farm is to be cleaned up and converted into offices after members of the council's development and licensing committee gave the all clear to a planning application by Ramsbrook UK Ltd.
The farm currently consists of a detached farmhouse, two brick barns and a number of prefabricated buildings.
But Ramsbrook, the firm which is to move to the site, aims to restore the farmhouse to its former glory, exposing the brickwork and replacing its modern style windows with a traditional design.
The large brick barns will be converted into more office space.
Ramsbrook specialises in the design and maintainance of overhead rail line systems and until recently operated from the Waterloo Centre in Widnes.
With other centres in Crewe and Carlisle, these new offices will be the company's administrative base.
Restrictions on vehicles using the site means the company is looking to buy a staff minibus and will subsidise their use of public transport.
Ramsbrook's director Steve Shudall said: 'It's the next stage in our development, we have only been going for two years and we hope to expand even further.'
Several area residents objected on the grounds that the development would set a precedent for employment use in the countryside and would disturb the countryside and wildlife. Some claimed the farm would lose its traditional agricultural character.
But Halton Borough Council's nature conservation officer said there are no protected species on the site and approval was granted subject to conditions regarding materials, landscaping, access, parking, the protection of existing hedgerows, drainage and hours of use.
A council spokeswoman said: 'This proposal represents a suitable use for these redundant farm buildings.
'It will enable good quality buildings to be restored and will enhance the appearance of the site and area.'