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Decision looms for 94 homes on former Walkden High School site

Salford City Council planners will meet this week to decide whether a £9.5m development of new-build homes in Walkden can go ahead.

Barratt Homes want to build 94 houses on vacant brownfield land once occupied by the now-demolished Walkden High School.

Under the proposals, six apartments, 12 two-bed houses, 69 three-bed houses and seven four-bed houses would be built on derelict land fronting Birch Road.

The playing fields and rugy pitches to the north of the 2.3ha site will be retained for use by Walkden High School, which moved to a new building off Old Clough Lane in September 2011.

Planners have recommended approval.

94 homes layout overhead

The high school was flattened in 2011, as these video clips from Youtube user thindz91 show.

Between them, the developer and the council have agreed Section 106 payments totalling £441,000: £220,690.50 to offset the cost of primary school places at St Paul’s C.E on Heathside Grove, and £220,309.50 for affordable housing contributions.

Because the application site is considered to be in a low to mid value area, no more than 10% (nine homes) are required to be ‘affordable’.

Barratt point to their own assessment of “value added” as part of the development. This includes £640,000 the council would get from the government’s New Homes Bonus, £110,000 in additional council tax, 31 jobs created as a direct result, and an estimated £530,000 per annum spend locally by the occupants of the new homes.

The main concerns for local residents relates to traffic, as nearby roads are already exceptionally busy.

Planning documents state: “It is essential that the applicant gives thorough consideration to how the site will be accessed for construction purposes.

“Both side streets, Laburnum Road and Hawthorn Avenue are very narrow whilst Birch Road is used as the main drop off and pick up point for children at Walkden High and at times is extremely busy.

94 barratt homes overhead layout

“Restrictions must be in place on the hours of delivery for building materials/equipment to avoid the school opening and closing times.

“Families desperately need affordable accommodation within this part of the city.

“Further contributions should also be sought to improve the pedestrian link at the top of Laburnum Road, where it dips under the rail line, locally known as Cow Lane. This is a key pedestrian route that will be used by the new residents of the estate for accessing schools and local services.”

Any clawback – cash taken from the developer after the homes are built – would go towards improvements to Walkden train station and bus services on the A6 Manchester Road to the north of the site, up to the value of £150,000.

“It is considered that the level of contribution is acceptable,” say planning documents.

Councillor Richard Critchley, who represents Walkden South, said: “These plans will finally regenerate a prominent site that has stood derelict for a number of years.

“The inclusion of a pocket park and proposed landscaping will be welcome.

“The community rightly expects the developer to contribute towards local infrastructure, to ensure that these new homes don’t place an undue burden on existing facilities.

“The current commitment to invest in school facilities and affordable housing is a welcome start.

“Whilst Government legislation has now made it very difficult to get funding from developers hopefully the council will be able to claw-back additional much needed investment as the development progresses.”

The Planning and Transportation Regulatory Panel meets on Thursday 4 February.

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Tom is SalfordOnline.com's News Editor and community co-ordinator.