Seashell Trust School
The £45m scheme was rejected by the council in 2018

Seashell Trust school finally gets consent

Sarah Townsend

Charity-led proposals for a school and 325 homes on Green Belt land have been approved by the Secretary of State following a five-week inquiry and prior refusal by Stockport Council.

The £45m scheme at Stanley Road in Heald Green was allowed despite the secretary of state’s recognition that the proposed residential development would cause harm to the Green Belt, as noted in a previous inspector’s report. ­

But the secretary of state concluded that the local need for the scheme outweighs the harm it could cause.

Seashell Trust provides specialist care to children and young people with autism, deafness, blindness, and other physical and learning disabilities.

Its hybrid application, submitted to Stockport Council last year, includes detailed plans for a 60,000 sq ft school, including a swimming pool and associated infrastructure, at a site off the Handforth Bypass and Wilmslow Road.

The charity has a 120-capacity school and college at the site but is aiming to redevelop the area to provide a new facility to enable it to increase student capacity and upgrade facilities for pupils and college learners.

To enable the development, the trust aimed to sell around 37 acres of agricultural land bordering the Handforth Bypass for a residential scheme of up to 325 homes.

However, Stockport Council refused the plans in January 2018 arguing the trust had not proved the “very special circumstances” needed to develop on Green Belt land, and that the scheme conflicted with the local plan.

The council’s report at the time said the development would have “a permanent detrimental impact on the openness of the Green Belt and campus land and a resultant encroachment into the countryside; a failure to comply with the council’s standard for affordable housing; and that the proposed development would result in an adverse impact on the setting of the historic grade two-listed building.”

Seashell Trust appealed the decision, sparking a five-week inquiry that concluded on 25 June 2019.

The secretary of state has now considered the inspector’s report following the inquiry and resolved to grant planning permission to the scheme.

“Overall, the secretary of state agrees with the inspector that the need for the proposed development has been robustly made out,” his statement on Wednesday said.

“He considers that the improved provision for special needs education, specifically for those with very complex special educational needs and disabilities that cannot be met elsewhere, in both quantitative and qualitative terms, carries substantial weight.”

Seashell TRust School 2

The school at Stanley Road would feature upgraded facilities

The trust’s overall masterplan includes the new school with therapy suite and swimming pool, plus an extension of the existing college, family assessment units, family support services, sports hall and pavilion, new main entrance drive, reception and car parking. Planning permission has already been granted for a 3G sports pitch.

Jolanta McCall, chief executive of Seashell Trust and principal of the school, said in a statement: “We are absolutely delighted with today’s decision published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which sees the Planning Inspectorate allowing our appeal and granting planning.

“All of our team at Seashell are working incredibly hard to manage the needs of our children and young people in the challenging circumstances created by the global pandemic and that will remain our focus for as long as is needed, but this decision paves the way for a new, positive direction for Seashell.

“We very much look forward to working closely with the local community and Stockport Council as we move forward with the development of our new school and campus and a bright new future for Seashell.”

NJL Consulting advised Seashell Trust on the planning.

Jolanta Mccall Seashell Trust

Jolanta McCall is chief executive of Seashell Trust

Your Comments

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Well done all involved. The right result that will see this wonderful organisation flourish

By Pete Swift

A certain level of common sense has prevailed at last!

By Dover

Where are all these people coming from!! What about schools, health facilities ,infrastructure, A34 traffic? Cheadle Hulme Bramalll and Poynton don’t need any more housing. Green field site – when its gone its gone!

Last one to leave Cheadle Hulme turn the lights out


Brilliant result. Well done all

By Junior

The right decision and common sense prevails

By Anonymous

Good news. Having visited The Seashell Trust a number of times, and witnessing the work they do, releasing land that will help then fund improvements to the care they give is correct in my opinion.


A completely overpriced development to the detriment of the local community and reduction of Green Belt land, but money talks.

By Jon

Reading the decision letter it looks as though a charity was made to wait 2 extra years for planning approval just so local members could duck their responsibilities and pin the blame on the Secretary of State.

By UnaPlanner

Surely renovation of the school could have happened without the need for building so many additional houses? I fear future generations won’t be able to enjoy any greenbelt as there will be none left.

By Anon

To Anon. The release of the land is to fund the renovation and improvement of the existing buildings and building of new accommodation.


Great result for a much valued organisation. Good to see housing growth acting as enabling development in this way.

By Nick Thompson

NOTHING is worth permanently destroying nature for, especially bricks and mortar. As GM has committed to increasing green land by 10%, why don’t they buy the land off the trust and leave it as is….. Some people will not be happy until there is a coast to coast concrete jungle across every inch of the UK. These crimes against nature will never stop as long as there is an excuse and a profit to be made. The secretary of state should be ashamed of themselves, but they won’t be as they obviously couldn’t care less about nature.

By John

This development will be grossly detrimental to the environment. Local infrastructure is already overloaded. A green lung is more important here not more housing.

By Graham Herring

Very sad to hear those lovely fields will be built on. They have been greatly enjoyed by walkers for many years and especially at this time of lockdown. We will have to use our cars to reach open spaces in the future as there won’t be any suitable places near to.

By Janet McKenna

Where will the entrance roads be to this housing estate? I support Seashell having updated facilities. Why can’t Seashell provide a Park for community on the green belt left?. Is there a policy that the remaining green belt is not built on? The area will be grid locked with poor community facilities eg doctors, dentists – is this considered by Seashell. Poorer air quality too.

By Sonia Beetham

I don’t think that the fields should be sold in order to build 325 houses. This will increase the amount of traffic on the A34 and there will be more demand for schools and other facilities for the people who live in the houses. I think people should protect the open spaces, and felt sad to see the vast development of houses on the former British Aerospace site.
I know Seashell trust are wanting money with which to rebuild their school.

By Rachel Graham

What about air pollution, noise, extra traffic on our already congested roads?Over 300 houses – over 300 more cars in the area, not to speak of the strain on local schools, NHS and transport. We need our green open spaces for physical and mental health. There are too few already. The proposed plans for the special needs school I agree are good and necessary, but really is there no other way this can be achieved without spoiling the environment for the residents already living in the area????