Old Trafford B&Q Site

Old Trafford apartments refused at committee

Charlie Schouten

Following fierce opposition from Lancashire County Cricket Club, Trafford’s planning committee has voted to refuse plans by developer Accrue to build 433 apartments next to Old Trafford Cricket Ground.

Last night’s planning committee voted seven to two, and in line with planning officer recommendation, to refuse the project on the site of a former B&Q.

The £80m proposals by Accrue were for a series of brick-clad blocks ranging between four and 12 storeys, containing a mix of apartment types, along with ground floor retail, undercroft car parking, and improved public realm.

The proposals attracted a series of objections put forward by residents, local landowner Bruntwood, and Lancashire County Cricket Club.

The Cricket Club has been particularly vocal, going as far as taking out an advert in the local paper to argue against the development; its criticisms focus on the height of the scheme, and an argument that it could put the ground’s Test cricket status at risk.

Planning officers fell on the side of the cricket club, arguing the scheme should be refused by members based on its “poor design”, a lack of affordable housing, and the impact on LCCC, Trafford Town Hall, and the Longford Park Conservation area.

Accrue, however, hit back ahead of the committee meeting, focussing on a lack of brownfield housing delivery within Trafford, and expressing “frustration” over a lack of engagement from the council.

At committee, Cllr Aidan Williams spoke out against the development, arguing that while the site was suitable for residential development, the application represented “the worst sort of practice you can get when you come across residential development”, accusing the developer of “attempting to cram too many units into too small a site”.

Cllr Linda Blackburn spoke in favour of the scheme, stating: “It’s all well and good to criticise the development of new homes when you already have one. I support this application to provide homes on this brownfield site, and look forward to all our brownfield sites creating much-needed homes in our fine borough”.

Before last night’s committee, an Accrue spokesperson said: “We are particularly disappointed that despite extensive consultation with the planning department, there were a number of issues raised in the report which we had not been made aware of until this point. This is frustrating as several of the matters raised are easily resolved.”

The planning officers’ report to committee listed nine separate reasons for refusal, including: “The proposed development would represent poor design as its height, scale, layout, density, massing and monolithic appearance are inappropriate in its context and would result in a building which would be significantly out of scale and keeping with its surroundings. This would have a highly detrimental impact on the street scene and the character and quality of the area.

“The proposed development by virtue of its height, massing, scale and layout would result in a poor level of amenity and unacceptable living standards for future occupiers of the development, by virtue of inadequate daylight, sunlight and outlook in both apartments and amenity areas.”

In a statement to Place North West on the planning refusal, a spokesperson from Accrue said: “We are naturally disappointed that our £80m investment that would have provided much needed new homes in Trafford was refused but take encouragement that members agreed that the site was  appropriate for a significant residential development. We would also like to thank those members that supported this application.

“We remain committed to delivering new homes for the area and hope to work with Trafford officers and members to address their concerns and find a solution that delivers high-quality new homes on a Brownfield site.”

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That is what happens when you highlight the shortcomings of the planning authority. Better luck next time folks.

By Cheshire boy

Quel surprise

By told you so