Local Disappointment At Springfield Hospital Decision

"This will come as a bitter blow to the many local residents"

Councillors have expressed their disappointment at a decision by a Whitehall planning inspector to recommend the large-scale redevelopment of the Springfield Hospital site.

The inspector has backed an appeal submitted by the hospital trust after the planning committee turned down plans for to redevelop the Springfield site and neighbouring public golf course.

Councillors backed local residents who were opposed to the redevelopment because of the effect it would have on Metropolitan Open Land (MOL) and because a scheme of this size would create unacceptable transport problems in the area.

The decision means that hospital chiefs can now proceed with their plans to build a new psychiatric hospital on the 33 hectare site, alongside 839 homes, a care home for the elderly, a school, plus approximately 3,700 square metres of office and retail accommodation and parking spaces for 952 cars. The new buildings will range in height up to four storeys.

The trust will also be permitted to demolish a number of listed buildings on the site and make changes to the hospital's Grade II Listed historic parklands.

In her written judgement, published on Thursday, the inspector recognised: "There can be no doubt about the strength of objections to the proposal on the basis of its impact on the local highway network, on the public transport system and the consequential effect on people's lives.

"The evidence and experience of those living, working and responsible for the area's highways and transport systems attest to a transport network under severe pressure and a highway system already experiencing high levels of congestion. The development would undoubtedly add to existing pressures."

However, she granted the appeal on the grounds that the redevelopment will help meet national targets for homebuilding and deliver "essential" improvements to mental health services.

She insisted: "The local community has every right to voice its objections. However, the significant benefits of the proposed scheme and the potential risk of losing valuable mental health care in Wandsworth clearly tip the planning balance in its favour, even in the face of the harm......feared by local people."

Council Leader Ravi Govindia said: "This will come as a bitter blow to the many local residents who argued that this scheme would have an unacceptable impact on the area.

"Many in the local community are strongly in favour of providing better clinical facilities at Springfield and delivering a better service to patients. But this could have been achieved without a redevelopment on this scale and without creating the kinds of problems that we believe will now inevitably follow.

"In our view, the transport shortcomings of this scheme should have led to this appeal being dismissed. Unfortunately the inspector chose not to give these arguments the weight and importance we believe they merit.

"Regrettably residents in this part of the borough will now have to live with the consequences of this flawed decision."

The council has consistently argued against an overdevelopment of the Springfield site.

In 2009 the planning committee turned down proposals for 1,200 residential units and 6,200 square metres of commercial and retail floorspace in a range of buildings up to eight storeys high. This would have included more than 3,000 square metres of restaurants, bars and takeaways and just under 1,200 car parking spaces.


June 25, 2012