09:16AM, Friday 10 November 2017
An application for the multi-million pound redevelopment of Heatherwood Hospital will not be ‘called in’ by the Government, it has been announced.
The Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust’s plans for the £90million transformation project were approved by the borough-wide Development Management Panel in August.
But the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, MP Sajid Javid, still had the power to call for a public inquiry into the application before making a decision on its future himself.
Royal Borough councillor David Coppinger (Con, Bray) revealed at a meeting of the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board on Tuesday the application will not be called in.
He told the Express: “He has decided that the merits of the plans are so great it outweighs the benefits of the greenbelt.
“The decision means we can now go through with the hospital. It means we’ve got a brand new hospital at a time when the rest of the country is looking at closures.”
The plans include building a new elective care hospital on greenbelt land next to the current dilapidated hospital, demolishing the old building to make way for up to 230 new homes and building a new primary care GP hub. Royal Borough planning officers had recommended councillors block the plans due to the ‘significant area of woodland’ which would be lost due to parking proposals for the site. But they were overruled by councillors.
Cllr Coppinger added: “It’s a massive win for the residents of the borough.
“I can’t really overstate how important it is and it also shows that the Secretary of State is prepared to challenge the greenbelt and say that in certain cases it can be put to other uses.”
A spokesman for the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “This is great news and a relief.
“If the plans had been called in it would have potentially put timescales back by many months.”
The trust is in the process of agreeing planning conditions with the borough, with work on the development expected to begin in March.
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