Hospital land could be turned into housing

Dereham Hospital. Photo: Donna-Louise Bishop

Dereham Hospital. Photo: Donna-Louise Bishop - Credit: Donna-Louise Bishop

Hospital land could be turned into housing to boost community health services.

Land at Dereham Hospital could be earmarked for future development as part of the Breckland District Local Plan, according to district councillor Alison Webb.

If approved by central government, thousands of homes could be built across the district up until 2036.

Mrs Webb said the final decision on the plan could be made later this year and up to 60 homes could be built on hospital land if an application is submitted to the council.

She said: 'There are possible housing proposals for the area. It is part of the local plan. At this stage no planning application has been put forward by anyone.'

Mrs Webb added that even if the local plan was approved the land might not be developed at the hospital, owned by Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust on a freehold basis.

Mark Page, assistant director of estates and facilities at Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust, said: 'As is expected of all NHS trusts, we are constantly reviewing how best to use any land that we own for the benefit of the community and to potentially generate funds to plough back into the services we offer.

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'At Dereham Hospital we are particularly looking at how we could better provide more accessible community healthcare to local people and also work with local partners to offer additional new services. There are no plans to close wards at the hospital; all of these plans are about improving and extending the healthcare offering.'

He added: 'The land in question is part of these plans and could be used for a number of purposes such as housing with care, or key worker and affordable housing but at this stage it is not up for sale.'

An application could be put in by early 2020 and 'procurement of any development of the land' may not happen until 2021/22, according to Mr Page.

He said future plans would 'prioritise health need before release of land for other forms of associated development or residential uses'.

'The land may not come up for sale. It remains dependent on the development planning,' Mr Page added.

Existing services would be maintained between the hospital and local health hub, dependent on consultation outcomes.