Multi-million pound community health hub gets council approval
- Credit: Bryden Wood
A new hub in Hornchurch which will offer health services relocated from Queen's Hospital has been given the green light.
The 4,671sqm community health and wellbeing centre was approved by Havering Council's strategic planning committee.
Government funding totalling £17million was announced in 2019 towards the project for the former St George's Hospital, which closed in 2012.
The plans were submitted by North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) and would also see renal and frailty services moved from Queen's in Romford.
The Suttons Lane hub will also have an early cancer diagnostic unit and NELFT said in April it would provide GP services to residents living within two miles of the site.
A spokesperson for the trust also explained then that the hub is planned to serve south Havering for mental health and community services, with specialist provision for the whole of the borough as well as some Barking and Dagenham and Essex residents.
NELFT chief executive Oliver Shanley said it was delighted that Havering approved the plans, which will now be referred to the mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
Mr Shanley said: "This is a tremendously exciting programme of collaboration by partners with one common goal – to provide joined-up care through a modern, purpose-built centre for the people of Havering and neighbouring areas."
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The application site is on Green Belt land and would sit next to a new housing development being built by Bellway Homes.
But council officers felt the redevelopment of the former hospital site for a healthcare facility, which NELFT said will cater for 20,000 patients by 2028, represented the "very special circumstances" required for approval.
There were concerns raised by councillors at the committee meeting on November 4, about the proposed amount of parking for the site.
Transport for London (TfL) wanted to see a "significant" reduction to the proposed total of 110 spaces, a council report said, but committee member Graham Williamson felt the amount of car parking fell short.
He said: "If anywhere you need more parking, it's going to be a medical centre - even more than residential.
"I think that really needs to be looked at."
Cllr Reg Whitney asked the council to challenge the Greater London Authority over the issue, which the council's assistant director of planning Helen Oakerbee said it is doing.
Councillors unanimously approved the application, subject to conditions.
On its website, NELFT says the hub could open in early 2023.