Seashell Trust: Transformation Project, Cheadle

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Seashell Trust is a nationally recognised charity based in Cheadle Hulme providing educational, residential and care facilities for children and young adults with profound and complex communication and learning disabilities.  NJL has worked with Seashell Trust since 2010.  Through an on-going programme of applications, the latest will help Seashell deliver an ambitious ‘Transformation Project’ which will in turn safeguard the future of the important institution. 

In 2012, NJL secured planning permission for 17 specially-designed homes, a sports pitch and further sports facilities for children and young adults with unique needs and disabilities.  This represented the first phase in the project and established the ‘very special circumstances’ principle with regard to the sensitive Green Belt site setting.

2016 Submission

Following on from the 2012 consent, NJL was commissioned to assist on the wider Seashell Trust project which will see a complete redevelopment of the campus.  This is now critical due to the physical state and limitations of the current buildings at the campus, many of which are no longer fit for purpose.  The proposals include a new state of the art school building, refurbishment of some existing buildings, a new reception, assessment units, car parking, family support services and a sports hall/pavilion.

NJL was brought on board very early in the process to develop the proposals and advise on strategic planning principles with regard to the cross-funding case.  Seashell Trust owns a parcel of land, also located within Stockport’s Green Belt, which the charity was looking to sell to a housebuilder to raise the funding necessary to deliver the Transformation Project.  This was a last resort, with all other sources of funding having been exhausted.  

NJL examined the strength of the ‘very special circumstances’ relating to the work undertaken by Seashell, weighed up against the harm to the Green Belt which the development of housing and campus facilities would potentially bring about.

After a lengthy pre-application process involving meetings with Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council alongside detailed highways and landscape and visual impact assessments, NJL assembled the full project team and prepared the hybrid planning application, while also advising on affordable housing and development matters.  The planning application proposes a detailed school building, outline campus facilities and outline residential development of up to 325 houses to part cross-fund the campus development. 

A detailed Planning Statement was prepared by NJL to support the application.  This document sets out the full merits of the case and the planning balance, including a review of alternative funding sources, an assessment of alternative sites and an explanation for why each of the campus facilities was a fundamental necessity.  Overall NJL argues it demonstrates that ‘very special circumstances’ exist which, along with other benefits of the proposals, outweigh the potential harm to the Green Belt and any other harm that would result from the development.

NJL also assembled an Environmental Impact Assessment to support the proposed development, drafting initial chapters and coordinating all other technical input.

A consultation strategy was put in place by NJL, which included a public exhibition held in November 2015 alongside a public meeting and Q&A session which was fronted by local Members in December 2015.  The results of the consultation influenced and fed into the application package and scheme design.

Next Steps

The planning application was submitted and validated by the Council in March 2016 and NJL will now work closely with the project team, Council and consultees to hopefully deliver the best result for both our clients and ultimately the site and future occupants.

Alongside management of the planning process, NJL will also be working closely with the land agent and Seashell to advise on the land disposal and the housebuilder partner that will ultimately be selected to deliver the residential proposals.

We will update this page to keep you informed of our progress.

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