The Hale Community Trust’s plans to demolish the village’s existing library and replace it with housing, along with building a community hall next to its bowling green, are to be decided by Trafford Council next week.
The long-running scheme has been proposed since 2015, when Hillcrest and the Trust agreed to purchase the site of the existing library on Leigh Road from Trafford Council.
An application was submitted in January last year by architect Calderpeel and Hillcrest; this proposed demolishing the library and replacing it with eight homes and a retail unit, and building a new library and community centre next to Hale bowling green, to replace an existing pavilion.
However, this was withdrawn in February with Trafford understood to be reluctant to give the scheme the go-ahead.
Two fresh applications were put forward in April, which has seen the size of the community centre scaled back and the architectural design rejigged.
The community centre is set to house a library, a multi-purpose events space, and a café. There will also be provision for a lounge for bowling club members, who are currently based in the existing pavilion on the site, which is accessed via Cecil Road.
This community centre will be funded by the redevelopment of the former library site into houses; this part of the application has also been changed, although will still include six detached houses, two apartments, and a retail unit fronting Leigh Road.
Both these applications are now recommended for approval when Trafford Council’s planning committee meets next week.
The scheme has been backed by 195 letters of support from residents, while local councillors Cllr Patricia Young, Cllr Denise Haddad, and Cllr Alan Mitchell; Cllr Young argued the project had been “totally supported by the residents and businesses in Hale” and added the existing library was “not fit for purpose”.
However the proposals have not been without their objections, with letters to the council arguing there was “a conflict of interest for council members and those sitting on the board of directors of the Hale Community Trust to be supporting [the] application”, while the scale of the proposed community hall has also been criticised.
An objection letter also argued “no resident was consulted” prior to the planning application being made; a public consultation into the plans was held in April this year.
Trafford Council’s planning officers have given their backing to the project following the changes to the design. Regarding the new community hall and library, planning officers said: “Earlier proposals have been unsuccessful in delivering a sympathetic design response. The scheme presented in this application has been the subject of protracted design discussions, and it follows the conclusion of a constructive pre-application process.
“Some important amendments have been made to the building’s form, to its positioning, to its architectural approach and materials strategy, and to the effects on surrounding landscaping.
“The outcome is a building whose prominence would be reduced in key views towards the site and which would be perceived as being less overbearing to the open space of the bowling green.”
On the housing element, the officers’ report said the redesign had provided “a development that would now be compatible with established historic form and character and which would not dominate within the street scene.
“Whilst it has not been possible to address all design shortcomings, such as a flat roof component, it has been concluded that the residual effects would not result in material harm to heritage assets including their setting.”
Trafford Council’s planning committee will make a decision on 8 August.
Hale Community Trust has previously been a vocal opponent to proposals at Brown Street, next to the village’s railway station. Here, Trafford Council has proposed 22 homes and a multi-storey car park, to be brought forward by developer Novo. More than half of the homes on the site are proposed as affordable.
The Community Trust employed its own planning consultant, highways consultant, and heritage team to review Novo’s proposals, arguing the scheme was “out of keeping” with locally-listed buildings.
However, Trafford Council’s planning committee approved the project in December. While construction has started, many residents continue to oppose the scheme.