Hotels coming and going, excitement over Old Trafford and Stretford moving forward.


A busy time for planning applications, both new applications and older ones being resolved:

Trafford Park Hotel

This is a new application for the Hotel which is oldest heritage asset in Trafford Park. It’s been allowed to deteriorate for some time though in recent years attempts have been made by what has been a procession of new owners to come up with a plan to provide new purpose to the pub.

We had an attempt to have it built into a boutique hotel development that included a new block adjacent to the pub. That was rejected out of hand by planners as the new block was considered too big.

We now have new owners and their vision is for apartments. Again there is a new block albeit somewhat smaller than that proposed earlier.

In terms of architecture, I’m supportive of the new application. It retains and repurposes the pub building and whilst the adjacent block is not blowing anyone away, this is what it might to take to preserve the pub building.

My problem is that it’s for apartments in a very much depopulated part of Trafford Park. It does have the tram and good bus connections. Trafford Park village actually has lovely shops but they are geared to a 5 day a week operation and there’s nothing there at all at weekends. We’ve very much reserved this whole area for industry and commercial activity since the last houses were demolished.

I think there’s a very good chance that planning officers will take a dim view of it being for residential use. This application might well go the way of the last application with summary dismissal.

Sadly, I think hotel use was a much better proposal but that application never even got to planning committee. I’m not making the same mistake twice. For that reason, I’ve ‘called’ the application in. At the very least it will allow councillors to have consideration of the remaining options for preserving this much loved listed building. I won’t be a councillor when the application is ready for determination but I’ve consulted with my fellow councillors and Dave and Laurence and both agree we need proper consideration of the proposal.

Manchester United Stadium

The future of Old Trafford has been the subject of much press speculation. It seems certain that significant proposals are being drawn up to either almost rebuild the current stadium, or to build a new stadium on nearby land.

I think it’s fair to say that as the main concerns will be traffic and community impact, local councillors will be sharpening their elbows to work their way to the front to be heard.

We know how these sorts of regionally significant projects have a tendency to pan out. There’s lots of ‘glad-handing’ of regional ministers, Metro-Mayors, not to mention leaders of Salford and Trafford, but little say from the communities most affected. Those local elbows will have to be razor sharp and in my view, it will be to the benefit of Manchester United if they are.

A Manchester United Stadium that meets the collected needs of the fans, the club and the people who live and work alongside has to be better than one that sets itself apart.

Greatstone Hotel

This was a planning application to build apartments on the site of the Greatstone Hotel adjacent to the Gorse Hill Park gates. The council refused planning permission but the applicants appealed to the Planning Inspectorate. The inspector Louise Crosby ruled in support of the refusal:

I have found that the proposal would have a significant harmful effect on the
character and appearance of the surrounding area, great weight must also be
given to the harm I have identified to designated heritage assets which is not
outweighed by the public benefits. I have also found that the proposal would
not provide adequate outdoor private amenity space for future residents of the
apartments.

Louise Crosby

I’m sure they’ll come again with a new proposal or someone else will.

701 Chester Road – 169 bed hotel on corner with Warwick Road

This was the second time this site had come to planning. The first time, planning committee refused permission and to a certain extent, this was confirmed in an appeal against the decision.

The applicants tried to address the reasons for refusal endorsed by the planning inspector. So, this application had reduced maximum height and more car parking, particularly disabled car parking.

However, planning committee still didn’t approve the application for reasons of:

  • The design having a detrimental impact on the character and visual appearance of the street scene and the surrounding area.
  • The scale would give rise to an unduly overbearing and over-dominant impact and result in harmful overlooking to the detriment of the amenity that the adjoining occupants could reasonably expect to enjoy.
  • The proposed development would generate an additional demand for car parking which cannot be accommodated on this site in a satisfactory manner.

Interestingly to me as an observer, the Director of Growth and Regulatory Services was sufficiently disturbed by the overly theatrical performances of some members of the planning committee in their considerations, that he felt bound to chastise them over their lack of focus in what he rightfully reminded them was a quasi-judicial function.*

(*This is a nice way of saying that he gave them a bollocking and it’s unprecedented as far as I’m aware to do it in public unless one counts Jackie Weaver.)

School Streets – What are School Streets?

A School Street is a road outside a school with a temporary restriction on motorised traffic at school drop-off and pick-up times. The restriction applies to school traffic and through traffic. The result is a safer, healthier and pleasant environment for everyone.

School Street schemes offer a proactive solution for school communities to tackle air pollution, poor health and road danger reduction. A School Street scheme will encourage a healthier lifestyle and active travel to school for families and lead to a better environment for everyone.

Trafford is hoping to finally get one installed imminently. It’s taken too long but we’re there with our first pilot. Given we’re almost there, I’ve made a plea for data to be collated quickly in terms of how the school performs now. I want us to be able to show the difference that school streets make.

All things transport

Just to emphasise how important it was for Andy Burnham to have his franchising of Greater Manchester’s buses ruled as legal and legitimate, we can already see the benefit the decision to cap all bus fares to £2 for a single journey. The bus fares in Manchester over recent decades have almost forced people into cars. At last we’re allowed to bring some common sense to the issue.

Vernon Everitt has been appointed as Andy Burnham’s new Transport Commissioner to replace Chris Boardman who’s taken on a national role at Active Travel England.

Dame Sarah Storey takes over Chris Boardman’s other role for Active Travel in Greater Manchester.

If I’m honest, I’m not overly thrilled that the two disciplines are separated again. We really need everyone singing from the same hymn-sheet and I’m still concerned that those in TfGM responsible for traffic are resisting change. There are too many unresponsive crossings in GM and we’re nowhere near giving priority to pedestrian travel. I’d go as far as to say major sections of TfGM are not fit for purpose.

Covid-19

Bad news, I’m afraid. Trafford back as having highest rates in Greater Manchester and trends are all upwards. Hospital rates are rising. The only positive indicator is that use of ventilators are down.

Stretford Town Centre

Let’s finish on a positive note. Stretford took a another jump forward with planning permission granted to proceed to the next stage. This includes quite a substantial demolition to focus on the King Street area as well as underneath and around the multi-storey car park.

Now we’re moving beyond outline planning, I think we can lose the rather too cartoony CGI images of people dangling their feet in the canal. This is quite a radical change for Stretford but we did need to lose a lot of the Mall. The challenge is to make sure we have a Stretford that’s big enough to be the town centre we want, and that presents an attractive face to those coming through. I think we can deliver that.

Designated for demolition (hatched areas)

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