Pledge to rethink hospital land sale

By James HoreAN MP has welcomed a Department of Health decision to urgently consider the future of land it owns at the town's hospital.A new hospital and health clinic is set to open in Harwich in 2005, but residents are unhappy land some land at the site has been earmarked to be sold for housing.

By James Hore

AN MP has welcomed a Department of Health decision to urgently consider the future of land it owns at the town's hospital.

A new hospital and health clinic is set to open in Harwich in 2005, but residents are unhappy land some land at the site has been earmarked to be sold for housing.

Ivan Henderson, the Labour MP for Harwich, has now received a letter from the Department of Health, which said the issue would be looked at as a “matter of urgency”.


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Mr Henderson said he had asked Peter Wearmouth, chief executive of NHS Estates, to consider handing back the land to the people for use within the health system.

“I am very optimistic. It is about making sure we have the land there for possible expansion if needs be,” he added.

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“We would ask for it to be handed over as part of the LIFT (Local Improvement Finance Trust) initiative. The people in Harwich have asked for this land for health and if we have it, it can be earmarked for future health development.”

Tendring Primary Care Trust chief executive, Paul Unsworth, is also waiting for a response after requesting the Harwich Hospital site that has been earmarked for housing should be withdrawn from sale while it assesses future needs for the land.

“The redevelopment of the hospital and Dovercourt Health Centre has been planned without taking this 0.76-hectare piece of land into the equation, so this land is not crucial to our redevelopment plans,” he said.

“However, we have written to the Secretary of State asking him to consider withdrawing the land from the sale and offering us the opportunity to be a priority purchaser.

“Even if this request is granted, we have to consider how the purchase of the land could be funded.

“We anticipate the market value of the land to be set at between £850,000 and £1million, which is beyond the budget of the primary care trust.”

The announcement houses could be incorporated in the £40m revamp of the hospital was greeted with dismay earlier this year.

The Tendring Health Action Group said a residential development would cause chaos near the site.

Its spokeswoman, Vickie Williams, added the town was growing and the land should be left vacant.

A spokesman for Tendring District Council said it had received some basic plans for the hospital site, but there had not been any detailed submissions.

“We are awaiting some finalised plans to move it on from the outline stage where it is at the moment,” he added.

james.hore@eadt.co.uk

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