Dr Dan Poulter, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health, has written to all NHS trusts reminding them to talk to local planning authorities and communities when making decisions about what to do with healthcare buildings and sites identified for disposal.
“I am keen that trusts do not miss out on informing Local Plans at an early stage and therefore miss out on potential opportunities to influence local planners about the future shape and needs of the local health economy,” he writes.
I would encourage you to think carefully about whether you have, or are likely to have, sites which are surplus that may be used for alternative purposes and approach local planning authorities at the earliest opportunity
He adds: “[Disposing of unused land and property] is a win/win, providing funding for reinvestment and efficiency savings that can be used to deliver better services to patients as well as supporting wider government objectives on housing and growth.
“In any land sale, it is important that trusts engage early with the local planning authority on the alternative uses for the subject site, and later with the local community as part of the planning process. These requirements are set out in departmental guidance - Health Building Note 00-08.
“I would encourage you to think carefully about whether you have, or are likely to have, sites which are surplus that may be used for alternative purposes and approach local planning authorities at the earliest opportunity.”
Figures released by the Government in 2012 revealed that 47% of NHS trusts had at least one parcel of surplus or potentially-surplus land within their portfolio, and experts estimate the amount of disused and underutilised space is equivalent in size to London’s Hyde Park.