As the £6m development prepares to start in the coming weeks, Hale residents have maintained their opposition to the affordable housing scheme, with a number of angry objectors making their feelings known at a public consultation.
Working in partnership with Trafford Council, developer Novo is looking to build 22 homes and a multi-storey car park on the site next to Hale’s railway station, which is currently used as surface car parking.
More than half of the homes are designated for affordable tenures, ahead of the normal obligations for a scheme of this size, which is 40%. Six of apartments are for shared ownership and are available to everyone, while a further six are shared ownership and will be available for over-55s.
While the scheme secured planning permission in December last year, the developer has been working with Network Rail, highways, and United Utilities to optimise the site before construction can begin.
A contract has been agreed with CPUK to deliver the project, and work is expected to start in the coming weeks, with completion set for Christmas 2020. Both the multi-storey car park, which features 67 spaces, and the apartments will be delivered concurrently. Project3 is the architect.
The developer held a public consultation yesterday to give residents more information on the project before construction begins in an effort to engage with the local community. However, many residents have maintained their objections to the project; ahead of the planning application last year, 250 letters of opposition were put forward.
At yesterday’s event, a number of residents gathered to make their feelings known to the developers, with an angry cohort claiming the scheme “looks like a prison” and was “a monstrosity”. One resident asked “why [the project] is being built in front of my house”, while another claimed objectors were “not hostile, we just don’t like it”.
After discussing the scheme with representatives from Novo, two residents stormed out of the event after berating the developer, claiming they were “done talking”.
These echo objections put forward last year; accusations levelled at the scheme had included 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”.
Other objectors pointed to a “lack of public consultation”, although events were held on August 22 last year ahead of the application, while yesterday’s consultation was not a statutory requirement by the developer or the council.
Speaking to Place North West at the consultation, Ben Fearns of Novo said: “I think we have to be transparent. We’re very aware it’s a contentious application that has split opinion, but there are many benefits to the scheme and we have had a lot of engagement [with the local community]”.
Local councillors had also previously objected to the project, but are understood to have been briefed by Novo on the latest developments around Brown Street ahead of yesterday’s consultation. It is understood no councillors attended the event, nor did representatives of the Hale Civic Society, which also objects to the scheme. Planning officers and councillors backed the scheme last year, with the planning committee voting seven to six to approve; six Conservatives voted against while six Labour members and one Green voting in favour.