Councillors speak out to quell fears that part of Ludlow Hospital site could be used for housing

Councillors speak out to quell fears that part of Ludlow Hospital site could be used for housing
The former maternity unit at Ludlow Hospital
The former maternity unit at Ludlow Hospital

The site of the former maternity unit at the hospital in Gravel Hill has recently been sold – subject to contract – but according to councillors there is no chance of it being turned over to housing.

Councillors Andy Boddington and Tracey Huffer say a lot of concern has blown up around ‘incorrect information’ that the unit was being lined up for housing.

A planning application is in fact “within days” of gaining permission to convert the unit into workshops and offices, they say.

Councillor Boddington said: “This proposal received no objections and was supported by local councillors. It is now within days of gaining planning permission and Godrich & Bergius are keen to get going on the project.”

Councillor Huffer said: ““A lot of concern has blown up in the last day or so after incorrect information that the former maternity unit is to be demolished for housing. The building was closed for any health service use after decades of lack of maintenance. It is no longer fit for health purposes.

“There is a whole ward empty in the more modern building next door.

“We absolutely need to keep a hospital in Ludlow.

“It is becoming a forlorn hope that the maternity unit will reopen for live births.

“We are completely opposed to treatment, diagnostic and support services being withdrawn from Ludlow. We want to see more services here in the future to save people having to undertake lengthy journeys to Shrewsbury or Telford.”

Councillor Boddington said: “This building could have been demolished and converted to a car park or new buildings erected.

“That would not have been a good option in our carbon conscious age. The building, although not listed, is also part of historic East Hamlet and should be retained if at all possible.

“We would like to thank Godrich & Bergius for being open about their plans and working with local councillors from the outset to bring this scheme forward. We are desperately short of space for small enterprises in Ludlow. We need projects like this to allow south Shropshire’s community, culture and economy to thrive. Planning permission is expected to be granted in the next few days.”

The former maternity unit is a two-storey brick building, constructed in the mid 1800s, with later extensions.

Plans for the conversion into business units has raised hackles among objectors who are worried about the loss of parking spaces.

Ludlow Town Councillor Darren Childs said; “The loss of 18 parking spaces for hospital use will have a detrimental effect. District nurses will have nowhere to park, and patients in wheelchairs will have to be pushed a distance along a slope into the hospital.

“We note that the hospital has had to employ a parking attendant to control the parking spaces that are left, taking money away from patient care.”

Health campaigner Gill George has told planners that there is minimal disabled parking space at the New Road entrance, and almost all parking there is at the bottom of a steep bank.

“This makes access hard for many disabled people. It is itself a small car park, and the loss of the Gravel Hill spaces sets a ‘hard limit’ on future services,” she has told planners.

“I have also been advised that there is a strong risk to future ambulance access to the ward block via the Gravel Hill entrance, and that trolley access to the wards from the New Road hospital entrance would need significant work to the building.

“There are real questions here about the operational impact on the hospital if this planning application is approved. There is a need for further scrutiny of this.”

There as been communication between council planners and the applicant’s agent over the issue of whether there will be enough parking for business users. They say their proposal includes taking 13 parking spaces which they judge to be enough. They point out their business visitors are likely to walk 240 metres from the town centre, or 250 metres from the train station and with bus stops immediately north.

“There is likely to be a maximum combined number of staff on the premises of seven. That leaves six parking spaces for others even if all staff/owners arrived by car,” says a letter to planners.

“It is also relevant that parking and movement is likely to be far more courteous with the proposed development than it was with the previous use of the site given the hectic and hasty movements often associated with a hospital.”

Marketing documents reveal that pre-application discussions were held with Shropshire Council for the proposed conversion of the maternity ward building for a residential use with associated operational works.

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