Friday, 7 December 2007

English Partnerships & St. George's Hospital III

English Partnerships has taken over the St George's Hospital site and intend to bring forward a new planning application for 200 houses and employment provision in February.

The existing planning permission for 150 houses (including re-use of existing buildings) and employment land is apparently not economically viable. Unexpected costs include connection to mains sewage, higher than expected refurbishment costs to existing buildings - and the Borough Council is asking for a higher proportion of affordable housing.

  • Of course the Hospital has a private sewage network which might cope with 200 houses - but EP are thinking ahead to Stage 2 of the development which will add a further 250 houses.
  • It's a shame too that the NHS Trust has been so strapped for cash over the last ten years or so that they haven't been able to afford even minumum maintenance on the empty buildng - so they've gone to wrack and ruin. A classic case of pennywise, poundfoolish - as in so much of government these days.
  • And - emerging Council policy on affordable housing requires 50% of new housing developments to be affordable - so there's some interesting horse-trading to come.
NCC Highways are happy that The Drive is adequate access to the proposed development if the junction onto Whorral Bank is enlarged.

  • This will apparently involve widening the junction, putting in a righthand filter and possibly a min-roundabout. It isn't clear yet whether they intend taking a bite out of Tommy's Field, the Easter Field or the garden at the end of Thorp Avenue (or all three).
  • It's not clear too that NCC Highways are taking into account traffic flows from whatever development appears on the site of the Mount retirement home - currently being marketed for NCC by DTZ
The new development will probably retain the Tower, Superintendent's House, Chapel and cricket field. English Heritage has said that most of the buildings are of no particular merit and do not rate 'listing'.

The second stage development of 250 houses, a small retail centre and employment provision is planned for the site of the remaining hospital buildings, but this depends on the Northern Link Road (from A1 across Fulbeck and Bluebell Woods to Whorral Bank) being built.

  • The road is currently earmarked in a regional funding programme - likely to come forward in the next five years or so. But private sector funding is also required - which would come from this Stage 2 development. And - although NCC have plans for the road - they have not yet even applied for planning permission.
English Partnerships hopes to get an outline planning application for Stage 1 submitted in February, with determination by the Borough Council in May. Then they'll prepare a Development Brief and market the site. They hope to have a developer on site by Aurumn 2009.

  • They have shown a willingness to consult - I hope this extends through the pre-application and application process into the preparation of the Development Brief.
  • They say that they have no intention of building on the open land (cricket field, common, race course) in either Stage 1 or Stage 2 (and that will probably take us through to about 2015).

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