North Walsham Hospital plans set for approval

Plans to create a 24-bed ward at the North Walsham Cottage Hospital have been recommended for approval by planning officers.

The 24-bed intermediate care ward, which will be split into four-bed wards and eight single rooms, will replace the 18-bed unit in the current hospital which will be knocked down.

There would also be a visitors car park containing 28 spaces to the east of the new ward, with a further 24 spaces proposed to the north of the building. The existing ambulance station would remain.

The proposals are set to be discussed at a meeting of North Norfolk District Council's development committee today .

A letter of objection to the plans has been received by residents living in Sampson Road, whose properties are to the south of the site, with concerns raised including the building being positioned close to the boundary of the site which will change the outlook from the properties, the removal of trees and shrubs which create a 'buffer zone' at the moment between the boundary and the homes, and the position of the car park which they say will increase noise, disturbance and light pollution.

But officers have recommended the plans are approved, saying that the Highways Authority have indicated there would be no significant increase in traffic movements and that car parking provision is acceptable.

Officers also said it was their opinion that there would not be any issues of loss of privacy or direct overlooking for residents in Sampson Road.

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The plans for the Yarmouth Road site are the third part of a five-phase project which it is hoped will see the new North Walsham hospital up and running this autumn.

The first stage of the renovation of the hospital is currently under way, with Rebecca House, the former mental health in-patient unit, already undergoing a �1.6m revamp to provide outpatient services, clinics and administration offices ready for this spring.

The current hospital was built in the early 1920s but has been described as no longer fit for purpose, with corridors too narrow to move beds out of wards. The new hospital will be known as North Walsham and District War Memorial Hospital.

The building work is being carried out by Mansell Construction Services, which is part of Balfour Beatty. It is being managed by Norlife, which is a 20-year partnership set up between some of the local public sector authorities in Norfolk and the private sector developer, Guildhouse.