Despite fierce opposition, Novo’s proposals for a £6m development on a brownfield site next to Hale Station, which has attracted nearly 250 objections including from local MP Graham Brady and the area’s civic society, is recommended for approval at Trafford Council’s planning committee next week.
Novo’s proposals, brought forward in partnership with Trafford Council, are for 22 homes and a multi-storey car park on the Brown Street car park site next to the village’s station.
Designed by architect Project3, the scheme features 10 houses in a brick-clad block along with a four-storey apartment building of 12 homes. More than half of the homes on the site are proposed as affordable and will be available for shared ownership, managed by Southway Housing Trust.
A two-storey car park features 67 spaces, linked to the red brick-clad block; 10 of the spaces are allocated for the homes leaving 57 available for public use. CPUK is attached as main contractor, and the professional team also includes Civic Engineers and Planit-IE.
Planners have recommended the scheme for approval despite fierce opposition from local groups as well as local MP Graham Brady. Cllr Patricia Young, one of the scheme’s objectors, had requested it be heard at committee; she is married to Cllr Michael Young, an Altrincham ward councillor who has signalled his objections to a number of new-build projects in the local area.
Accusations levelled at the project include the fact it includes “fancy flats not affordable homes”, despite 55% of the homes in the scheme being for shared ownership; the council has also been accused of “selling assets for short term financial gain without considering the long-term losses to the community”.
Another objection states: “Altrincham was once busy and vibrant, a combination of the Trafford Centre and sale of the land used for free parking led to it declining massively to what it is today: a sad and bleak place filled with ‘to let’ boards. It is hoped history will not repeat itself with Hale”.
The developers and the council have also been accused of “a lack of public consultation”, and “very little publicity” around any consultation event, although one was held on 22 August this year, as reported by Place North West.
Two councillors, Cllr Patricia Young and Cllr Alan Mitchell, signalled their opposition to the scheme, criticising its scale and massing, and its proximity to the Hale Station Conservation Area. Cllr Mitchell also pointed to a “lack of consultation publicity” and added he was “perturbed by the lack of re-tender” after changes were made to the original proposals.
Hale Community Trust and the Civic Society have even gone as far as to employ their own planning consultant, highways consultant, and heritage team to review Novo and the council’s application. These representations argued the scheme was contrary to Trafford’s development plan, and “out of keeping” with locally-listed buildings.
The developer has argued the proposals would contribute “towards the acute need for housing in Trafford and the local area” as well as “upgrading and future-proofing the public car parking facility to ensure this valuable asset is retained in the longer term for the benefit of the wider community”.
Trafford Council planning officers have sided with the developer in this case to recommend the project for approval, despite the high level of objections to the scheme.
While admitting the proposals would result in “moderate harm” to nearby heritage assets, planners argued this would not outweigh the public benefits of the scheme – particularly the affordable housing, which exceeds the 40% provision target for the council on the site.
Planners recommend approval
The planners’ report said: “The numerous representations which raise concerns about the impact of the development of the vitality and viability of Hale district centre are acknowledged and have been carefully considered.
“It is only natural that local businesses and interest groups would be concerned if the district centre were to suffer an adverse impact as a result of these proposals.
“However, it is considered that all the available evidence would suggest that these concerns are unfounded and that there is no reasonable basis on which harm to the vitality and viability of the district centre as a result of these proposals would represent a justifiable reason for refusal of the application.”
On the car parking issues, the planners’ report notes that the local highway authority has removed its objection to the scheme following some amendments, while car parking surveys had been carried out on the existing Brown Street site to show it had an average parking occupancy of 46%, or 37 spaces. Other car parks in the area, at Victoria Road and Cecil Road, were also found to be less than 70% full on average when surveyed.
“Given the current usage of Brown Street car park, it is considered that the loss of 23 car parking space would only infrequently impact on the ability to find a space in the car park”, said planners. “It is considered that there is sufficient parking capacity elsewhere in the district centre to absorb the loss of these spaces.”
Concluding the report, planners said there was “no clear reason for refusing the development” under the National Planning Policy Framework, and recommended that committee approves the scheme when it meets next week.
This meeting is due to take place at 6pm on Thursday 13 December at Trafford Town Hall in Stretford.