A Government inspector has thrown out a planning appeal by the developers of the former Rauceby Hospital site at Greylees, calling on them to think again about better preserving it as a heritage asset.
North Kesteven District Council planning committee had rejected plans by Barratt Homes to demolish the ward blocks of the former hospital, leaving only the administration building, two old staff apartment blocks and a conservatory to make way for 100 new homes, converting the remaining buildings into six more homes, and building a community centre and shop.
But, council planners had insisted a better solution should be found for the historically important former hospital site.
After hearing evidence from all sides at an inquiry in June, planning inspector David Rose has issued his report, dismissing the appeal brought by Barratt Homes against NKDC’s refusal in May 2016.
Barratt Homes argued that it was not financially viable to retain and convert as many of the hospital buildings as the council requested.
Mr Rose said Barratt had ‘not reasonably shown’ that their proposal was the only way to achieve best public benefit; the company could have done ‘significantly more in its approach to seeking sources of funding or securing alternative custody of the buildings’, its approach ‘lacked the imagination and flexibility often required to deliver a conservation based proposal which could secure grant funding’ and ‘was not a proportionate or reasonable attempt to engage with the complexities of the funding or project development process’.
Mr Rose added that Barratt’s proposal ‘would amount to substantial harm at the upper end of the spectrum’ to the Conservation Area.He called on them to properly secure and sensitively ‘mothball’ the site while promptly looking at future funding options and alternative schemes.
While acknowledging residents’ anxiety to complete the development and bring forward facilities, Mr Rose said ‘heritage assets are an irreplaceable part of both the nation’s and the local community’s legacy.’
North Kesteven District Council Leader Coun Richard Wright said: “The inspector’s conclusions vindicate the position we have reiterated to Barratts over the last five years that they needed to do more to explore all potential options for the retention, conversion and use of those buildings.
“He has effectively told them to go away and come back with a better plan and our doors remain open, as they always have, to such progressive and meaningful dialogue which achieves maximum benefit for the community and district.
“It is regretful that a national housebuilder of Barratt Homes’ status should show such a disappointing lack off regard to the heritage value of this site but I am hopeful they will think again.”
A spokesperson for Barratt Homes North Midlands said: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the appeal at our Rauceby Hospital site and will now be taking stock and considering our options before making any further decisions.”
Prior to the appeal the housebuilder had also put the hospital buildings up for sale, explaining they were marketing the development land for sale for £1million and seeking expressions of interest to prove they had explored all options for conserving the site but so far the sale boards are still on display.
Robert Galij, Planning Director at Barratt Homes North Midlands, had said at the time: “We are exploring all the options for the conservation of the site. As part of this we are marketing the land for sale and seeking expressions of interest.”
This had included offering to sell the site to local councils.