Planning chiefs back proposals to build flats on ‘attractive focal point’ despite opposition from locals

Planning chiefs have backed a proposal to build flats on an ‘attractive focal point’ despite public objections over the loss of trees and green space.

The scheme would see a pair of two-storey blocks built on a half acre site between Broad Street, Yates Street And Chapel Street, in the Rhodes area of ​​Middleton.

The application, from Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, would bring eight two-bed apartments to the area, served by an access road off Broad Street.

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These ‘walk up homes’ – each having their own front door, without any internal communal area or stairs – would be available for ‘affordable rent’

But the plans have proven controversial locally, with 27 objections being lodged with Rochdale council by members of the public.

Middleton South councilor Peter Williams has ‘called up the application’ due to resident’s concerns over the loss of green space and mature trees as well as increased road traffic.

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However council officers say it is ‘acceptable in principle’ and have advised the planning committee to approve the scheme later this week.

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The recommendation to councilors reads: “The proposed development of eight flats would be acceptable in principle and would not unacceptably restrict access to local open space.

“The development would make efficient use of the site, and is acceptable having regard to neighbor amenity, layout and design.”

According to a council report the grassy plot is home to eight trees, ‘the most prominent of which are a collection of four mature trees clustered in the center of the site’.

“Due to their size and prominent siting within the site, the trees form an attractive focal point and contribute positively to the character of the area generally,” it adds.

These four trees would need to be felled – which officers accept would result in ‘some harm to the character of the area’.

However this is considered to be offset by a proposal to plant three trees for each one felled ‘retaining a verdant character across the site’.

Land Between Broad Street, Yates Street and Chapel Street, in Middleton.

An assessment by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit found the trees provided potential for bird nesting during the breeding season, but were not thought suitable for bat roosting. It was also considered ‘very unlikely’ that the site supports any other protected species.

The site is within 100m of the Rhodes Village Center and the surrounding area is split between residential and commercial uses.

The council report adds: “The overall development would have an undoubtedly urbanising impact on the site, although this is not considered inappropriate within the context of the site.”

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Access to the site would be via Broad Street with 13 parking spaces – including one for use by existing residents.

Highways bosses last year refused to support the application on the grounds that the layout could not ‘safely accommodate the turning movements of a standard refuse vehicle’.

They also feared it would create road safety issues between vehicles and pedestrians and was not of an adoptable standard.

The plans have since been altered to ‘improve access’, with highways officers accepting the new layout ‘may be able to allow a refuse vehicle to enter the site for collection’.

But they remain concerned there are too few parking bays, meaning on-street parking is likely to ‘further obstruct the already limited turning space available’.

However they grant this ‘may not be able to sustain a reason for refusal’.

Rochdale council’s planning and licensing committee meets at Number One Riverside on Thursday night (March 3).

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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