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New Era for Health Care in North Cotswolds
Leaders of Cotswold District Council and Gloucestershire County Council have welcomed the approval of plans for a new hospital which will provide state-of-the-art health care for residents throughout the whole North Cotswolds area.
The Planning (Regulatory) Committee at Cotswold District Council has approved an application to build a new hospital, together with two GP group practices, on a 7-acre site near the centre of Moreton-in-Marsh, replacing the town's existing hospital.
The decision was welcomed by Cotswold District Council leader Lynden Stowe and his counterpart at Gloucestershire County Council, Barry Dare. In a joint statement, they said: "We very much welcome this decision - it's a huge step forward for health care in the North Cotswolds. This development will enable the integration of all the existing health and social primary care teams with local health volunteers. Having said that, it will be sad to see the older hospital close its doors, and we very much hope that the wonderful caring environment that typifies the existing hospital will be carried over to this new development."
The new hospital will provide 22 beds, all with en-suite facilities, and other enviable amenities, including high quality outpatient clinics and therapy services. It will also serve as a service base for a range of community health and social care staff. Two GP group practices will also be located on the site which is only 650 metres from the town centre, and is within easy reach for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Motorists will gain access via a new junction off the A429 and there will be parking for almost 200 cars.
The hospital will replace a building which dates in part from the 19th century and is very awkward to access. It will employ 50 full-time and 100 part-time staff while the adjoining GP practices will employ a further 23 full-time and 44 part-timers. It will be built in natural stone, brick and aluminium, featuring distinctive curved roofs reminiscent of Cotswold barns, and will be designed in a manner which limits its visual impact on the surrounding Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. In fact, the developer will incorporate a number of ecological improvements such as tree and hedge planting and the introduction of wet grassland, wild flower meadows and ponds.
Although the site is outside the development boundary, the Council felt that there was sufficient justification to approve it, citing that it will be essential to the wellbeing of the community. The Planning Committee was satisfied that the developer had investigated alternative sites within the boundary that had not proved suitable for a variety of reasons, including flood risk, poor accessibility from the town centre, and prohibitive infrastructure costs.
Councillor Sue Jepson, Chairman of Cotswold District Council's Planning Committee, was also very pleased about the decision but acknowledged that there had been some opposition: "I realise that the choice of site is not universally popular, largely because the location is beyond the development boundary and in an AONB. Nevertheless, we believe that the plus points far outweigh the drawbacks and we are conscious that many health professionals have urged us not to miss this opportunity to provide excellent health care facilities to residents across a very large catchment area."
Councillor Ben Jeffrey, Chairman of Cotswold District Council and a Ward Member for Moreton added: "I'm delighted. This is the most important day for the North Cotswolds in the three decades that I have been a Cotswold District councillor."
There was also praise from David Glaisyer, Chairman of the Hospital League of Friends, who said: "This is a great decision by the Planning Committee, and we look forward to working with partners, such as the Council, to develop community services around what will be a handsome building with all the new opportunities that go with it."
: 17/02/2010 12:43:14
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