Long awaited plans for a care village at a derelict hospital in Northampton will drag on further, residents fear, after developers were asked to submit more information on the bid.
Kayalef Holdings had their plan to transform the St Edmunds Hospital site on Wellingborough Road passed ‘in principle’ at last night’s planning committee meeting.
But the Cyprus-based developers were asked to submit a ‘viability assessment‘ to justify knocking down a grade II listed former school house and nurses’ home.
The assessment will need to demonstrate the scheme has ‘substantial benefits’ which outweigh what the Victorian Society deems as the ‘substantial harm’ created by knocking down the two 19th Century buildings.
But co-chairman of the PEMBA Residents’ Association, Dee O’Neill said those living nearby fear building work will only be delayed further.
She said: “All of this is starting to get ridiculous now, this has been going on for 15 years.
“There is not one person on this estate that objects to the scheme.
“No one round here wants to keep those buildings. Why do we need reminding of a workhouse?
“Would it not be nicer to knock those buildings down and just put a memorial plaque for the people that died in there in its place?”
The viability assessment will need to be approved by the borough council’s director of regeneration, enterprise and planning.
At last night’s meeting, planning officer David Rowen said, if the assessment is approved, the council would hold the developers to a ‘legally binding’ timetable to ensure building work is completed within a certain time.
But the plans submitted, for around 130 care apartments and a 62 bed specialist care home offering round-the-clock elderly support, received a broad approval from the planning committee members.
“It’s a pity we have to agree the old school building has to come down,” said Councillor Matt Golby. (Con, New Duston) “It has got some good architectural features.
“But I completely that we need to move this development forward now. If it has to come down it has to come down.”
Councillor Danielle Stone (Lab, Castle) welcomed the fact the scheme was approved in principle.
But she said: “I feel it is too early for us to get excited. There are still a lot of hurdles to jump over.”
Ashley Riley, the UK spokesperson acting on behalf of Kayalef Holdings, said: “St Edmunds is a complex and challenging project regarding listings, feasibility and the demands on converting 19th Century buildings to meet the needs of the 21st Century.” “Therefore it is good news that the Planning Committee have approved our plans in principle which means our work to bring St Edmunds back to life can continue.”
“We will also continue our discussions with Northampton Borough Council to consider the viability of the plans as it is in no ones interest for the site to stay in its current state longer that is necessary.”
“Nobody wants a failed planning application. This is why we are committed to a robust, rigorous and ultimately successful approach which will see St Edmunds serving Northampton for many years to come.”