'Alarm bells ringing' over hospital site

PUBLISHED: 14:57 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 15:42 11 May 2010

CONCERN: Cllr Bill Prime

CONCERN: Cllr Bill Prime

A TOWN councillor has said the inclusion of the Royston & District Hospital site on a list of potential housing development land is ringing alarm bells . Cllr Bill Prime said he was concerned to see the site included in North Herts District Council s Loc

A TOWN councillor has said the inclusion of the Royston & District Hospital site on a list of potential housing development land is "ringing alarm bells".

Cllr Bill Prime said he was concerned to see the site included in North Herts District Council's Local Development Framework document.

The document - which is currently part of a public consultation exercise - suggests a number of sites in Royston which could have potential for housing developments in the future.

One site is the Royston & District Hospital in London Road.

Cllr Prime told members of Royston Town Council's planning committee that he was concerned about the inclusion of the site.

He said he has become more worried because unlike other sites identified in the document there was not an actual figure on the number of properties that could be developed on the site.

"There are no numbers relating the how many houses may be built there - and that is ringing alarm bells," he said.

Cllr Prime added: "At some point the whole site could be used for housing."

In its response, the committee said: "Redevelopment of the hospital to improve health facilities available in Royston is supported with limited residential development to fund the improvements."

For more than the past decade there has been a running debate over the future of the hospital.

And plans for the site have always included a number of properties to help meet the costs of improvements to the hospital.

A scheme outlined last year would see the North and East Herts Primary Care Trust and Herts County Council's social services be involved in a partnership project.

The trust was asked this week about the future of the site, but, as yet, The Crow has not received a reply.

The committee on Monday evening approved its response to the district council's document.

In the response, the committee said: "Land should only be allocated on the basis of identified need with priority given to development on brownfield land.

The response says that any development on land north of York Way has to be "sensitive" due to the "high visibility" from Therfield Heath.

Any building there, it says, should not be more than two storeys.

It says: "If the site is to be developed it should be retained for the expansion or relocation of Royston-based businesses.

"No warehouse-style development should be permitted."

The committee has suggested that it could be used for the development of a small science park.

The response continued that a site at the Corn Exchange in Royston town centre would need to be development by taking "account of the historic setting".

The committee suggested that the site could be developed as a covered market.

On the town hall site, the committee said it was "unlikely" that any residential development would have a "significant impact" on the value of the site.

It said the site should be used to provide community and entertainment facilities.

The committee points out, too, that a site between Baldock Road and the A505 Royston bypass is the "preferred site" of the relocation of Royston Town FC from its ground in Garden Walk.

"Due to its proximity to Baldock Road and being screened by trees from Therfield Heath, the site would have less visual impact than other options."

The committee's response supports, too, an idea that The Warren should be retained for car parking and for retail development.

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