The Planning Inspectorate has granted planning permission for a 500 home development to begin on sites at Whitford Road and Albert Road in Bromsgrove. As part of the decision, Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust will receive a healthcare contribution from the developers to mitigate the impact that this development would have on their healthcare services.
Richard Clegg, a senior planning inspector appointed by the Secretary of State to independently assess the Trust’s contribution request, agreed that the Trust could expect to see an increase in service user numbers as many of the residents would be new to the Worcestershire area. The Trust stated that its hospitals were already working at capacity, even without taking the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic into account.
To help cope with increasing demand, the hospitals have already put various programmes into place to improve patient flow and increase the efficiency of outpatient clinics. The Trust also demonstrated that bed occupancy rates between 2016 and 2019 had exceeded 93% while the benchmark for patient safety is noticeably lower at 85%.
The Trust was seeking a contribution from the developers towards the cost of providing additional capacity during the first year of occupation of each phase of the development. Additional funding was essential to help maintain its ‘on time’ service delivery without compromising quality of care until its usual funding mechanisms for the new population came into action 18 months after the development had been occupied. Additionally, these payments are not made retrospectively, meaning that the Trust would never recuperate treatment costs for new patients from their first year of occupation.
Mr Clegg agreed that a contribution towards the provision of healthcare services at the new increased levels created by the development should be made by the developers. Applying a standard calculation used to assess the cost of healthcare service provision, he accepted that the proposed contribution of £289,027 should be made by the developers to help the Trust to provide services for 12 months to an additional 603 residents.
Representing Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust, Leenamari Aantaa-Collier, Partner and Head of Planning at The Wilkes Partnership, was pleased with the decision regarding healthcare services. “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the crucial work that NHS Trusts do for the community. It is a resource and needs to be adequately funded to be able to continue providing an invaluable service. This decision makes it clear that, while the provision of new housing is a priority, developers have a responsibility to ensure that local service provisions and infrastructure are not negatively impacted by their activities”.
Leenamari Aantaa-Collier advises clients in the public and private sectors on all aspects of contentious and non-contentious planning law. Contact her on 0121 710 5934 or at [email protected] if you would like to discuss any legal issues relating to applications, planning obligations, appeals, enforcement matters, injunctions, judicial reviews or Section 288 appeals.