A public inquiry has begun investigating the Trafford Council’s handling of plans for the former B&T site in Stretford.
The currently vacant space on Great Stone Road was once home to a B&Q hardware store and before it was a nightclub and venue. It is next to Lancashire Cricket Club, close to the Old Trafford Metrolink stop.
The landowners of the Brownfield site, developers Accrue Capital, submitted several sets of plans for hundreds of new apartments between 2019 and 2020.
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But the council, which in early 2020 said it was happy to use forced purchasing powers ‘in principle’ to secure the land from Accrue to build a leisure center on it, has rejected them.
The council’s proposal had been to develop the venue as part of its Stretford master plan and build a high-quality leisure center and car park with close links to the Lancashire Cricket Club.
But Accrue’s lawyers wrote to the council in 2020 to make it clear they would “strengthen defend” any attempted forced purchase of the land.
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A public inquiry into the case began on January 11 and is underway.
Her Majesty’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has appointed chartered urban planner Andrew McGlone to oversee the investigation, which will continue in the coming weeks.
Accrue Capital had previously submitted plans for 433 homes on the site in March 2019, but these plans were denied permission by the council due to concerns about the height and density of the settlement.
Proposal for two blocks of between four and nine storeys in height with a total of 333 one- and two-room apartments with 10 pcs. affordable housing was then submitted by the builders in March 2020, but the council never took a position on these plans.
Accrue then lodged an appeal against the Council’s decision on the proposals, and as the Council could not issue a formal decision following the appeal, the Council’s Planning Committee voted in October 2020 that it was ‘willing to reject the application’ if it had been able to decide that.
The proposals had been recommended for rejection by Trafford Council officials because of the potential damage the development could have to the nearby Longford Park Conservation Area.
Other reasons for the recommended refusal included the fact that the building would ‘dominate’ over the nearby Lancashire Cricket Club, had ‘poor design’ and inadequate affordable housing, along with concerns about the size, scope and mass of the development.
During the meeting, on 15 October 2020, Councilor David Pearson said: “We believe that the negative effects of the development in the local area significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.
“The layout, shape, height, scale, mass and density of the proposal are considered to be completely inappropriate for the site. It is estimated that the proposed development will cause significant damage to the character and appearance of the area.”