Councillors’ backing for a development of new houses next to Hinchingbrooke Hospital has been hailed as a ‘ground-breaking opportunity’ to transform the site into a ‘health campus’.
Lance McCarthy, chief executive of Hinchingbrooke Hospital NHS Trust, welcomed Huntingdonshire District Council’s decision to support a planning application for 33 houses and 12 flats in the grounds of the hospital – forming what will be the first phase of a the health campus scheme.
Mr McCarthy said: “Approval of this scheme is an important stepping stone to supporting the trust’s ambitions for realising an innovative and sustainable health campus at Hinchingbrooke Hospital.
“We see this as an opportunity to create a ground-breaking umbrella of care for the people of Huntingdonshire and to keep health and care services local.”
The district council’s development management committee agreed to grant permission to Almaren Homes for 45 units – 33 houses and 12 flats – at the hospital site, in Hinchingbrooke Park Road.
The green light was also given for Almaren, in partnership with Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust, to demolish a staff car park and nursery building, located in the north west corner of the hospital site, to make way for the new homes.
Planning permission was granted despite opposition from Huntingdon Town Council, which raised fears over traffic flow around the hospital and the impact on surrounding roads.
The town council was also concerned about the loss of car parking space for staff at the hospital.
But district council planning officer, Charlotte Fox, said that colleagues in the county highways department were satisfied that the development would not “result in severe residual cumulative impacts on traffic flow or highway safety”.
In order to offset some of the concerns raised by the town council, Ms Fox placed a series of conditions upon the approval, including a requirement for the developer to replace the lost parking spaces elsewhere on the site.
The next phase of the health campus plan rests with a second planning application currently being considered by the district council.
The trust has applied for permission to demolish outdated staff accommodation at the site and replace it with 385 new flats, allowing for medical and nursing students, accommodation for rehabilitation and for specialist continuing care and general needs.
The health campus concept is a drive by the hospital trust to retain staff and attract new staff as well as to anticipate how the delivery of health and social care will change in the years ahead.