Trafford Council has tonight unanimously approved plans to redevelop the former Altrincham General Hospital into an 88,000 sq ft health and wellbeing centre.
A full application for the vacant hospital site – the one-acre area bounded by Regent Road to the south, Market Street to the west, Greenwood Street to the east, and Pott Street to the north – went before the planning committee tonight.
A report prepared by planning officers in advance had recommended that the scheme should be approved, and the committee took less than a minute tonight to approve it.
The former hospital will now be completely demolished and the facade of the principal building – the only part of the original 1870s building deemed to have “architectural and cultural significance” – rebuilt in a slightly different location.
Work will start on the site this spring and aims to be completed by winter 2017/18.
The health centre at the heart of the plans, the South Trafford Health and Wellbeing Centre, will be a four-storey development made of brickwork, stone and glass that will sit “comfortably within its urban context”.
Commissioned by NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group, it will serve four local areas: Altrincham, Hale, Timperley and Bowdon.
It incorporates the new 8,008 sq ft Altrincham Library – relocated and downsized from its current site on Stamford New Road – pharmacy, café/health shops, public health services and GP practices. There will also be consultant rooms, treatment rooms, a waiting area, recovery rooms, a children’s ward, counselling rooms, staff areas and training rooms.
The eastern end of the building borders Pott Street, which will be completely pedestrianised under the plans and replaced with a paved area called Pott Street Square.
The square would also “encourage the market and adjacent bars and restaurants to animate the new square”. Limited two-way traffic would be reinstated on Greenwood Street to provide access to 100 underground car parking spaces.
Ahead of the meeting, a report noted that Historic England had suggested it would cause “a minor level of harm to the significance of the heritage asset”.
The report added: “A number of outdated and unattractive buildings will be replaced with a high-quality modern hub for the people of Altrincham and the façade of the original hospital building, valued for its heritage value, will be retained and brought back into full use.
“The improvements to the Pott Street area will improve links to the market and wider town centre. Concerns have been raised, most notably by Historic England, about the scale and some aspects of the design of the development.
“However for the reasons outlined in the report it is not considered that this outweighs the undoubted benefits of this scheme to the local environment and the future users of this facility.”
Gina Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer, at NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said: “We’re delighted our plans for the South Trafford Health and Wellbeing Centre have been approved. The Centre is not just about healthcare, it also combines social and community aspects and promises to be a really great asset for local people.”