Published on Tuesday, 29th July 2014

The NHS is to dispose of most of St James’ hospital site for housing. The land is being promoted for development by NHS Property Services Ltd (click here) and the expectation is that the first part will be sold within the next year.


As this land is going to come forward for housing anyway, it makes sense to put in place now the policies needed to secure improved infrastructure. The hospital site suffers from poor road access and there is a shortage of school places in the locality. Both these problems need addressing.


As things stand there is nothing to stop a developer salami slicing the site into applications for say 50 units at a time, none of which are large enough in themselves to require road improvements or school places. That is why the Cabinet is looking to allocate the land, because only then can the overall impact of the development be taken into account when a planning application is submitted.


I am well aware that many people would sooner the site remained as parkland, however national planning policy always has favoured the redevelopment of existing sites within urban areas and any attempt to block new housing here would ultimately be futile and would involve the council surrendering its ability to influence the form of development that takes place.


It is also not true that the council is making money from this. In fact it will be the biggest financial loser because the Harbour School stands on NHS land and it is being evicted in a year’s time. The estimated cost of re-providing the school elsewhere is £3m.

Tags : Planning, St James'