Following objections from local residents and concerns from planners, a 72-bed care home proposed for a greenfield site off Bankhall Lane in Hale has been recommended for refusal by Trafford Council’s planning committee.
The proposals, by developer Octopus Healthcare and architect C Squared, are for a 1.4-acre site which backs on to green space and the river Bollin. The developer is planning to demolish an existing house on the site and replace it with a specialist dementia care home.
This includes a series of interlinked low-rise buildings, as well as landscaped space for residents and parking on the site’s Bankhall Lane frontage.
The proposals had been met with fierce opposition from local residents and planners received 157 letters of objection, with only 15 letters in support.
Residents’ objections centred on the project’s impact on highways, ecology, and the “over-development” of a greenfield site.
In a 1,500-word letter highlighting “grave concerns” with the project, the Hale and Bollin Residents Group, advised by Ruth Jackson Planning, Cameron Rose Associates, and Tyler Grange, criticised the scheme for having “a complete absence of any analysis by affordability” and said the developer was “attempting to make a case for high-end fee charging beds in a saturated sector, based on a recognised deficiency of beds in the affordable sector”.
The letter also said the developer’s original case of need “are desktop studies based on generic data from the internet without any direct local knowledge”.
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”.
HPC’s care need assessment said: “Evidence further points towards a specific need appearing to exist in terms of both nursing and dementia care provision.
“The proposal to develop a new registered care home offering both nursing and dementia specific care in this locality would therefore appear prudent from a care need perspective.”
The local residents’ group also argued “in the strongest possible terms” that the site’s access proposals did not “represent a safe access arrangement”, raising issues with the width of footways and a potential increase in on-street parking, and the subsequent risk, that the development could bring, especially in relation to the nearby Hale Nursery.
The residents’ group had instructed Cameron Rose Associates to advise on the scheme, while the developer has enlisted SK Transport as its consultant.
In their report to committee, Trafford Council planners said the traffic impact of the development “could be safely absorbed by the local highway network”, and added the local authority was “comfortable with the methodologies and assumptions” in the transport statement prepared by SK.
“The consultation response also records that there is no adverse vehicular conflict anticipated between the application site and Hale Nursery in view of the separating distance,” said the planners’ report.
The parking requirement for the development was also said to meet to maximum standard for a C2 type of development, at one space for every five beds.
However, planners took issue with three areas of the proposals: a failure to preserve and enhance the adjacent South Hale Conservation Area; that the development would be inappropriate to the site’s semi-rural context; and the scheme’s impact on protected species on the site. Four species of bat were found to roost at the existing buildings on site following ecological surveys.
In outlining its reasons to recommend the scheme for refusal, the development was considered contrary to three National Planning Policy Framework areas, and Trafford’s core strategy.
Planners said these concerns would add up to “less than substantial harm” to the area under NPPF guidelines, but added this level of harm was “considered sufficient to result in development plan conflict, given that it is not adequately compensated for by the wider public benefits”.
The report added the proposals would amount to “overdevelopment” of the site leading to “further landscape harm”.
Regarding the need for a care home in the area, planners said: “In actual fact, when the supply of delivered and committed elderly persons accommodation is scrutinised, planning targets identified in the core strategy have already been met.”
The report also criticised the scheme for a “lack of opportunities for residents/patients to successfully integrate with the local community”.
Trafford Council’s planning committee is due to meet on 12 April. Octopus Healthcare has been contacted for comment.