A MULTI-million pound scheme to redevelop Hale Barns’ shopping centre is set to get underway this year, after a public inquiry came down in favour of the developers.
Property company Development Securities’ plans for a £30m revamp of the shopping centre have been held up for two years because three businesses have refused to move out.
Now, after a public inquiry in February, secretary of state Eric Pickles has rubberstamped planning inspector Mel Middleton’s recommendation to grant compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) for the three businesses - Hale Barns Post Office, Admirals fish and chip shop and Hale Barns Tandoori restaurant.
Development Securities – supported by Trafford Council – wants to develop the run-down 1960s centre by building a new shopping mall.
The planned new centre includes a Booths supermarket and cafe, between five to 10 shops and 24 flats.
The council claimed at the public inquiry that the development would help to regenerate the area, and Mr Middleton backed this.
He said in his report: “The proposal is likely to contribute to the promotion and improvement of the economic, social and environmental well-being of the immediate area in particular, but also of other parts of Altrincham.”
But he was sympathetic to the plight of the three affected businesses, particularly the post office, which have no new premises and are faced with going out of business.
He said: “The situation that has been reached concerning the loss of these three businesses, which appear to have been fulfilling valuable service needs in their different ways, is regrettable.
“The post office in particular is a valued local asset.
“Its loss will be felt widely throughout the local community.”
He believed the council could use its influence over the developer to retain these facilities.
“The local planning authority is the landowner and the promoter of the compulsory purchase order.
“It therefore had and still has more than adequate leverage over the developer to ensure that valued local facilities are retained and transferred into the new development should it so wish.
“Quite clearly commercial considerations have prevailed in this case.”
He went on: “Local facilities contribute to the economic and social wellbeing of an area.
“Their removal cannot add to its improvement.”
But he concluded the early redevelopment of the centre “would be in the best interests of the local community.”
He added: “There is a compelling case in the public interest for the compulsory acquisition of the remaining interests and therefore the confirmation of the order.
“Any potential overall private loss involved is clearly outweighed by the public benefit.”
A spokesman on behalf of developer Development Securities welcomed the ‘positive outcome’ of the inquiry.
“This brings us one step closer to starting works on site. Booths remains committed to a supermarket to anchor the retail development and we look forward to starting works at the end of the year.
“In the meantime, we will shortly be starting demolition works.”
REACTION TO THE GO-AHEAD: Sub postmaster at Hale Barns Post Office, Dhiresh Makdani, said he had not yet been notified of the decision.
He said: “It would be a great loss for the public in Hale Barns if they lose the post office.
“There will be an outcry if they lose the post office.
“No provision has been made by the council or developer and there are no suitable places available for the post office.
“The residents of Hale Bans will be deprived of an essential amenity.”
Savas Panayiotou, from Admirals fish and chip shop, said: “We are really disappointed by the decision.
“Our family now faces more uncertainty over its future.
“The level of consultation and communication has been minimal from the developers and the council.
“We have never opposed the redeveloppment of the Square - we just want a fair level of compensation for our business so we can get on with things and get Hale Barns back to where it should be.”
Graham Booth, Booths’ property director, said “We are really pleased to hear that the CPO has been resolved after what has been a long process and hope that this has been done to all parties’’ satisfaction.
“We are very keen to start trading in Hale Barns and we know the local residents will be eager to finally see some physical activity involving the regeneration of this important site. We will now work with Development Securities to deliver this exciting scheme.”
Hale Barns councillor Bernard Sharp: “I am delighted. This is what we have been waiting for.
“It is a very positive stop in the right direction.
“It will benefit the community, which has been crying out for this to happen for such a long time.”
Michael Hyman, an executive councillor at Trafford Council, said: "We are pleased that the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has accepted the Inspector’s recommendation and confirmed the compulsory purchase order.
“The order authorises the compulsory acquisition of the remaining interests in order that the mixed use development, which received planning consent back in 2011, can proceed."
THE LONG AND WINDING ROAD: The scheme to redevelop the Square was approved by Trafford’s planning committee in March 2011, after development plans for the shopping centre had moved back and forth through the planning process for five years.
In 2008, a much larger scheme was finally approved despite a high profile campaign by the Hale Barns Residents Response Group to block it.
But this scheme was shelved after anchor store Waitrose pulled out in favour of opening a store in Broadheath.