Problematic puzzle of where to expand Stevenage's Lister Hospital has no clear solutions
PUBLISHED: 15:00 07 May 2017
Concern remains about where exactly suitable land can be found to expand Stevenage's Lister Hospital after recent planning discussions proved inconclusive.
There has long been debate about the land that will be needed to extend the Coreys Mill Lane hospital’s campus to accommodate new facilities and increasing demand.
The East and North Herts NHS Trust – which runs the hospital – estimates that the population of the town will increase by 14 per cent to 98,000 by 2031, creating more demand on hospital services.
The issue resurfaced on the final day of the planning inquiry into Stevenage Borough Council’s Local Plan on March 24, and a government planning inspector is currently weighing up the options.
For many years Stevenage Rugby Club had been identified by the NHS trust as a possible site, and this was outlined in the first consultation document for the plan in 2013. But this has apparently been ruled out because the owner has agreed to sell it to a developer.
In January this year the NHS trust produced a statement saying it was ‘disappointed’ the rugby club was allocated for housing in the first draft of Stevenage’s Local Plan.
Stevenage Borough Council now says it has allocated a site for the hospital to the east of the A602, opposite the Sainsbury’s traffic lights, but it is understood the NHS trust believes it is completely unsuitable due to a number of factors – including a 30ft bank which runs down one side of the land, a large number of electricity pylons and a public bridleway which cuts right across it.
Neither side is currently willing to speak openly about the issue until a planning inspector makes the decision.
A borough council spokesman said: “The council understands the importance of meeting future healthcare demands and has created a plan that aims to achieve this.
“The Local Plan allocates a site of over 2ha, adjacent to the existing site, to allow for expansion of hospital facilities.
An NHS trust spokesman said: “We are working closely with Stevenage Borough Council to ensure that the Stevenage Development Plan makes allowance for the expansion of clinical services at the Lister. It is the NHS trust’s view that it would be unwise to allow insufficient space for the hospital’s future development.”