Plans for 36-apartment retirement home pulled due to ‘animosity’
Date published: 14 May 2019
Photo: Google, DigitalGlobe
Land behind Tesco Express, Oldham Road, Middleton
Plans for a new retirement home have been pulled after sparking ‘animosity’ from residents – but revised proposals are to be put forward.
The scheme involved building a 36-apartment complex on the site of an old petrol station behind Tesco Express in Middleton.
Developer Brantones said the facility – off Oldham Road – would provide ‘independent living for older people’, and it was variously described as a ‘care home’ and a ‘retirement village’ in document submitted to Rochdale Council.
However, the Wallasey-based firm has now withdrawn the scheme – which attracted more than 40 objections from members of the public.
Chris Yorke, of agents MHA Architects, believes a lack of clarity over the proposals led to the concerns – but says Brantones remain committed to developing the site in a way that will be welcomed by the community.
He said: “When the application initially went in last year all the applicant was looking to do was get outline planning permission for a new development
“However, at that time they did not have an end-user in mind and as a result we had to be relatively vague in terms of the title.
“As a result, people understood it to be something they didn’t necessarily want on their doorstep, which seemed to create a bit of animosity.”
Mr Yorke said a number of meetings have been held between the developer and Rochdale Council planning department in a bid to find an acceptable way forward.
“What transpired was that, as initially there was so much animosity, it would be easier to withdraw it and start from scratch with a whole new description and a new end user in place,” he added.
Mr Yorke was not able to confirm the name of firm that will run the care home, but said it was a ‘long-standing’ firm known for delivering extra-care for the over-55s in the north west.
He added that the aim of both the developer and the council is to provide ‘something everyone wants’.
He said: “It’s a parcel of land that has been left redundant for a number of years and they (Brantones) are trying to provide something that reflects the needs of the area.”
John Ward of Brantones says there was ‘local opposition’ to a previous application for open-market flats, but this continued as the new care home was proposed to be closer to people’s homes.
He said: “We agreed to review these changes as we do want to be good neighbours.”
The application has been withdrawn on the advice of the council and new designs are currently being reviewed.
Mr Ward added: “We expect to put in the new application within the next few weeks. This will hopefully appease neighbours’ concerns and allow planning to be granted at the development built to assist with the needed elderly accommodation and need in the borough.”
However East Middleton ward councillor Donna Martin has expressed concerns that the ‘land-locked’ site is not viable for development on safety grounds.
She said: “We know as elected members that people need homes, no matter what disability, creed or age.
“But this particular piece of land is behind Tesco Express which used to be an old petrol station with land at the back that used to be a pond.
“You can’t expect any pedestrians to walk through the Tesco car park to get to the main bus stop or the road.
“It’s not a viable site for anyone. Before this there was an application for flats for disabled people. We want people with disabilities to live in our community, but it would be like a death trap.”
Councillor Martin said that residents were also concerned about whether it would fit in with the character of the area, including the Grade II listed, Edgar Wood-designed Elm Wood Primary School.
If planning permission is granted the new facility could open by late 2020.
Nick Statham, Local Democracy Reporter
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