Trafford Council’s planning committee has refused an application by Octopus Healthcare to build a 72-bed care home on a greenfield site off Bankhall Lane in Hale, following objections from local residents and “overdevelopment” concerns from planners.
The proposals by architect C Squared were for a 72-bed dementia care centre on a 1.4-acre site which backs on to green space and the river Bollin. The developer is planning to demolish an existing house on the site and replace it with a specialist dementia care home.
The development included a series of interlinked low-rise buildings, as well as landscaped space for residents and parking on the site’s Bankhall Lane frontage. An existing house on the site was to be demolished as part of the plans.
Following a backlash from local residents and groups, along with a recommendation to refuse from planning officers, Trafford’s planning committee decided against granting consent to the development at a meeting last night.
In recommending the scheme for refusal, planners considered the proposals contrary to three National Planning Policy Framework areas, and Trafford’s core strategy.
Their concerns centred on three areas of the proposals: a failure to preserve and enhance the adjacent South Hale Conservation Area; that the development would be inappropriate to the site’s semi-rural context; and the scheme’s impact on protected species on the site.
Four species of bat were found to roost at the existing buildings on site following ecological surveys.
Planners said these concerns would add up to “less than substantial harm” to the area under NPPF guidelines, but added this level of harm was “considered sufficient to result in development plan conflict, given that it is not adequately compensated for by the wider public benefits”.
The report added the proposals would amount to “overdevelopment” of the site leading to “further landscape harm”.
The report also criticised the scheme for a “lack of opportunities for residents/patients to successfully integrate with the local community”.
There had been fierce opposition from residents, with planners receiving 157 letters of objection, with only 15 letters in support. Issues with the scheme centred on its impact on highways, ecology, and the “over-development” of a greenfield site.
A 1,500-word letter from the Hale and Bollin Residents Group, advised by Ruth Jackson Planning, Cameron Rose Associates, and Tyler Grange, criticised the scheme for having “a complete absence of any analysis by affordability” and said the developer was “attempting to make a case for high-end fee charging beds in a saturated sector, based on a recognised deficiency of beds in the affordable sector”.
The letter also said the developer’s original case of need “are desktop studies based on generic data from the internet without any direct local knowledge”.
Octopus and its advisor HPC had argued there was a “considerable statistical shortfall in terms of both registered beds and en-suite accommodation for the elderly across the target area”.
HPC’s care need assessment said: “Evidence further points towards a specific need appearing to exist in terms of both nursing and dementia care provision.
“The proposal to develop a new registered care home offering both nursing and dementia specific care in this locality would therefore appear prudent from a care need perspective.”
However, the planners’ report disagreed, arguing: “In actual fact, when the supply of delivered and committed elderly persons accommodation is scrutinised, planning targets identified in the core strategy have already been met.”
Octopus Healthcare has been approached for comment.