Concerns remain for hospital site plans

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Latest news from the Suffolk Free Press, suffolkfreepress.co.uk, @sfpsudbury on Twitter

The future of two Sudbury hospital sites will be decided next week after concerns arose about the developments’ viability.

Separate bids by West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust to develop St Leonard’s Hospital and Walnuttree Hospital into housing were submitted to Babergh District Council nine months ago.

But the unanswered question of viability forced last month’s planning committee to defer a decision on granting planning permission until January 14.

In the planning report prepared ahead of next week’s meeting, the crucial issue of viability remains unresolved.

A draft external financial viability review indicated that the trust had failed to demonstrate the viability of the proposal.

The trust has called in external viability consultants to assess its position and the results are hoped to be concluded before next week’s meeting.

Concerns were voiced by Sudbury Town Council and residents regarding the lack of affordable housing and community benefit outlined in both schemes.

In the most recent planning report, these are two features that the NHS trust has said it cannot afford.

In the case of the Walnuttree site, which could be turned into 42 residential units and seven town houses, planning policy requires 17 affordable homes and a payment of £77,583 towards the off-site provision of open-space or recreational facility.

The trust stated that the cost of converting the historic former workhouse was so high that it is unable to provide any affordable housing or make any contribution towards open-space provision.

Similarly for the St Leonard’s development, which proposes the development of 12 new houses, the trust is required to provide five affordable housing units to comply with planning policy.