Council stance on Rauceby Hospital vindicated
Date Published: 01 September 2017
A Government inspector has endorsed North Kesteven District Council’s long-held view that a better solution should be found for the historically-important former Rauceby Hospital site than extensive demolition.
After hearing evidence on all sides, planning inspector David Rose dismissed the appeal brought by Barratt Homes against NKDC’s decision in May 2016 to refuse their bid to demolish a range of former hospital buildings in favour of new-build housing, a shop and community building.
Barratt Homes argued that it was not financially viable to retain and convert as many of the hospital buildings as the Council requested in order to better preserve the heritage asset.
One of the ward blocks affected by Barratt's proposal at Greylees
Mr Rose said:
- Barratt had ‘not reasonably shown’ that their proposal was the only way to achieve best public benefit;
- Barratt could have done ‘significantly more in its approach to seeking sources of funding or securing alternative custody of the buildings’;
- Barratt’s 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’.;
- Barratt’s proposal ‘would amount to substantial harm at the upper end of the spectrum’ in terms of impact on the Conservation Area.
The main Admin Block of the former Rauceby Hospital
He called on them to properly secure and sensitively ‘mothball’ the site whilst carrying out a fresh, open-minded appraisal on future funding options and alternative schemes – thereby ‘throwing the buildings a lifeline in the hope of an alternative solution being conceived’.
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.’
He was critical of Barratt for not pursuing the necessary process for shoring up a scheme of retention with ‘sufficient alacrity and flair’ and called on it to now act ‘responsibly and promptly’ in its further investigation of alternative solutions to bring forward a revised scheme or provide the evidence to justify their preferred action.
Council Leader, Cllr Richard Wright
North Kesteven District Council vigorously made its case at the appeal inquiry, arguing that more needed to be done by Barratt Homes to secure the long-term use of the historic buildings.
Council Leader Cllr Richard Wright said the Council was right to invest such a degree of care and diligence in seeking the best outcomes at the heart of the emerging Greylees development.
“The inspector’s conclusions vindicate the position we have re-iterated 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 immediate community but also the broader District.
“This also shows that the decision made by committee last year to refuse their bid to demolish these rare assets was a reasonable, well-considered and soundly-based conclusion.
“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, return to first principles and bring forward a scheme and funding solution that gives due-regard to the unique nature and distinctive character of the location,” concluded Cllr Wright.