Altrincham Wellbeing Centre 10

Altrincham Health & Wellbeing Centre future to be decided

Charlie Schouten

The centre, left largely empty since opening in October last year, will be partially converted into office space at a cost of £1.5m under plans due to be approved by Trafford’s Clinical Commissioning Group next week.

The 88,000 sq ft centre opposite the town’s market completed last year but has remained vacant after the CCG announced it was “revisiting its long-term strategy” for the building; three GP surgeries, a paediatric service provider, and an NHS service centre were originally lined up to move in.

Documents showed the centre was facing a £1.9m funding gap before any of the proposed tenants could move in, with all six occupiers declining to move unless a “cost neutral position” was met.

Following the decision, the CCG has been exploring options for the building, and last year considered converting the health centre into office space at a potential cost of £7.2m.

Now, the CCG is set to make its decision on the future of the centre at a meeting next week.

The body’s preferred option is to move the GP surgeries into the first floor, with community services provided on the ground and second floors; The surgeries due to move are St John’s Medical Centre and Barrington Road Surgery; Altrincham Medical Practice was originally also lined up to move in, but has subsequently withdrawn its interest.

Under the preferred plans, the top floor, originally set aside for an NHS service provider, will be converted to commercial office space.

This conversion is expected to cost around £1.49m, but the CCG said “at the time of writing no funding source for these costs had been identified”. Funding options are likely to be explored with the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership.

Altrincham Wellbeing Centre 8

The top floor, formerly set to house an NHS service centre, will be converted

Other options considered were to proceed as planned with moving all the original tenants in; however, the CCG papers said there was “no support for many existing community services to be moved from their current locations and delivered from the [centre],” and added it was “not financially viable to proceed with the occupation of the [centre] as originally intended”.

Leaving the building vacant was also considered but the CCG said: “Financially this is the least preferable option as it would incur an annual cost for no value. Notwithstanding the financial constraints this would bring, it would also attract a significant amount of continued negative publicity.”

Finally, the full conversion of the building was also examined, but with “no capital funding readily available” from the NHS to fund the works, likely to cost £7.2m, the proposals were deemed too “high risk” with no tenant lined up to take the space if converted.

The CCG concluded this would be “undeliverable” without funding, and market rents would “not cover” the building’s rent, even if full occupancy was achieved.

Ranking the options from one to five, the CCG papers show the conversion of the third floor was ranked as number one, with the original business case including the original ocucupiers ranked as second, followed by letting the whole building out commercially as number three.

A partial adoption of the original business case, but leaving half of the second floor empty, was ranked fourth, followed by leaving the building empty at five.

NHS Property Services is paying £1.6m in rent on the building per year, along with £750,000 in rates, insurance, and facilities management. Along with a £111,000 facilities management contingency budget, this amounts to £2.4m a year.

Altrincham Library, which relocated from its existing site at Clarendon House, has moved as planned and opened in the building’s ground floor last year.

Cushman & Wakefield, Knight Frank, and Avison Young have all advised the CCG and Trafford Council on the deal.

The CCG is due to discuss the proposals and sign off the next steps for the building at a meeting on 5 March.

Martyn Pritchard, Trafford CCG’s accountable officer said: “The CCG is committed to making the best use of the Altrincham Health and Wellbeing Hub for people living in Trafford.

“The report, which is going before the CCG Governing Body, has outlined several options for the future use of the building. The recommendation is that it has a mainly health and social care focus which will meet the needs of local people and be the best use of the resources we have.

“The Governing Body will make its final decision based on what is best for the healthcare of people in Trafford.”

Your Comments

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Outrageous cock up of the highest order.

Once the dust settles the team behind this should be held accountable and asked to explain their decision making process.

The irony is this is a prime site within one of the NWs booming towns – there could have been a whole host of development projects brought forward which would have made great use of the site. What a waste of public funds and a key development site.

By NT

£1.9m funding gap to get the proposed tenants in or spend £1.5m converting just part to offices with no tenants lined up?? I know what I’d do and it appears to have already cost £1m standing empty since October with the prevarication and option assessments .

By taxed

Staggering level of incompetency to get to this situation. But now we’re in it I have to agree with taxed below, why spend £1.5m converting part of the building to offices (and we all know what happens to builder’s estimates once the job starts) for a non-existent tenant when spending hardly any more would cover the funding gap to allow for the original plan to proceed?

By dalmation

Rates and rent again..wake up altrincham

By John barlow

The best schools in the North West and house prices to match

By Roses

Surely it would have been better to pay the costs of moving the GP practices into the building as originally planned than have suffered the current lack of income from an empty building plus huge costs for any conversions necessary?
Whoever originally planned this venture seems to have as much idea as our shambles of a government has over Brexit!
Same waste of time and public money as usual.

By Patrick Parle

Taxed- your common sense view is unlikely to get you a lucrative career in NHS management…

By Gene Walker

snide move

By matt

They should be held accountable but the people who presided over this disaster have been paid off and no doubt recycled around the NHS. Managers looking after fellow managers as usual.

By Gingl

This was never going to work . There is no parking for the anticipated 30’000 patients and 100’s of medical staff.The development provides just 100 underground spaces. Trafford planners granted permission for this massive development and said there was loads of available parking in the town. How can this be when Trafford are selling off the car parks in Altrincham, Timperley,bowdon and Hale .
The same developer is now to build 75 apartments and commercial units on Regent road car park saying the development will provide additional public spaces. It won’t. 75 spaces are to be sold with the apartments and the remainder is to be contract parking for businesses. Best guess is theses will go to the empty building ?
Why cant the medical practices move into the half empty hospital built by the same developer .

By DS

City Branch = Trafford Council.

By Mr Trafford