Decision looms for NHS plans to build 490 houses on Frenchay Hospital

Gazette Series: Plans to build 490 houses on the Frenchay Hospital site will be decided next week Plans to build 490 houses on the Frenchay Hospital site will be decided next week

THE future of the Frenchay Hospital site is due to be decided at a meeting next week, the Gazette can reveal.

South Gloucestershire Council’s planning committee will rule whether to give the go ahead on North Bristol NHS Trust’s proposals to replace the much-loved hospital buildings with 490 houses and a new primary school at a meeting on Tuesday, December 10.

The NHS, which is moving out of Frenchay when a new £430million acute hospital opens in Southmead in six months, has been consulting with residents and local councillors for months over the outline plans it wants in place before relocating.

But there have been over 700 objections to the scheme with complaints that the housing will increase the size of Frenchay by a third and will fundamentally change the nature of the village.

Wintebourne Parish Council initially branded the plans, which first allowed for 550 homes on the 29-hectare site, as ‘gross overdevelopment’.

George Brookman, of Homestead Gardens, said: “The development would certainly not be in keeping with the image of the old village and would do nothing to ease the traffic congestion on the surrounding roads.”

Pauline Pike, of Glenside Close, said: “I drive my children to school in Stapleton and each day the traffic on Beckspool Road is terrible.

“With the addition of 490 dwellings, it seems that the impact on the already congested road system has not been fully stated.”

Council planning officer Rob Nicholson said, however, that as long as a buffer of green space was retained or extended, residential properties would be safeguarded and that traffic, and on-street parking around the hospital site, was expected to decrease when health services transfer to Southmead.

Mr Nicholson said improvements to the plans, such as the retention of some of the hospital’s 1930s features including a water tower, pavilion and Frenchay Park House, had made the planning application more attractive.

“It is clear that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to redevelop this site and the redevelopment must provide the funds to secure the repair and re-use of the buildings,” he said. “This is essential as it will help offset the impact that the redevelopment will have on the buildings and their historic setting.”

Jo Davis, from the trust’s planning consultancy GVA, told the Gazette to leave the site undeveloped would be irresponsible.

“Change is always a challenge for existing and established communities,” she said. “We have tried to be sensitive and responsive to change whilst recognising the importance of this regenerative site.

“South Gloucestershire has a huge housing challenge and this brownfield site, in line with government advice, has a responsibility to deliver new homes.

“It would be inappropriate not to provide the maximum number of houses on this site but we have restricted that number to up to 490 homes.”

She said the revised plans now allowed for an increased amount of green open space and housing only constituted 43 per cent of the site.

A financial contribution would be made to redevelop Frenchay Village Hall and trees along Limetree Avenue would be retained in line with residents’ wishes.

The future of Frenchay Primary School, and whether it is merged with the new school, would be left to South Gloucestershire Council to decide.

The meeting takes place at 10am at Filton Community Association.

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