A public inquiry will begin in June over proposals for a care home off Bankhall Lane in Hale, refused by Trafford Council last year following objections from local residents and planning officers.
The 1.4-acre site backs on to green space and the river Bollin, and fronts Bankhall Lane. Under the proposals first put forward by developer Octopus Healthcare, the existing detached house on the site would be knocked down and replaced with a specialist dementia care home.
Proposals for the site will now head to a public inquiry with widespread concerns from residents, planning officers, and Trafford’s CCG, which argued against the scheme’s “lack of focus on delivering affordable, inclusive and patient-centred care” and its location, which it argues would not allow residents to “integrate with the local community”.
A planning application first came forward in 2018 for a 72-bed care home, comprising a series of inter-linked low-rise buildings, but this was knocked back by Trafford’s planning committee in April that year following a backlash from the local community.
Planning officers had also recommended the scheme for refusal, based on “overdevelopment” concerns, the impact on protected species on the site, and “a failure to preserve and enhance the neighbouring South Hale Conservation Area”. Four species of bat were found to roost at the existing buildings on site following ecological surveys.
Octopus and its advisor HPC had argued there was a “considerable statistical shortfall in terms of both registered beds and en-suite accommodation for the elderly across the target area”.
The developer resurrected the planning application in January this year, bringing forward revised proposals featuring 64 units instead of 72. According to Octopus’ planner Savills, 64 units is the minimum required to make the scheme commercially viable; any fewer would mean the staffing costs would be “prohibitively high”.
Now, both planning applications are to be considered at a public inquiry, starting in June: the original application over its refusal, and the updated application due to non-determination.
By submitting an appeal for non-determination, Octopus has removed the ability of Trafford Council to make a decision on the updated scheme; the council acknowledged there were “continuing officer concerns” over the refreshed plans.
However, in papers submitted to the council’s planning committee, officers set out their opinion on updated scheme, putting forward a “minded to refuse” recommendation, noting ongoing issues with scale, density, and impact on protected species.
Planners flagged significant concerns on the lack of affordable accommodation offered at the site, as well as concerns over the appropriateness of the site for a care home.
Citing Trafford’s CCG and Welfare Rights Team, the officers’ report said: “Their concerns are numerous and are associated with the proposal’s high-end philosophy and its lack of focus on delivering affordable, inclusive and patient-centred care.
“Further concerns are associated with the site’s poor location in sustainability terms and the lack of opportunities for residents/patients to successfully integrate with the local community.”
Although reduced in scale, the updated application has also attracted significant objections from local residents and councillors: 155 letters of objection have been put forward, while Cllrs Patricia Young and Patrick Myers have also signalled their opposition. Hale and Bollin Residents Group, which also is against the plans, will be able to put forward their argument at the inquiry.
The appeal hearing is set to begin next month.