One of my photos

Crawley Hospital

February 1st, 2007 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 7 Comments · Politics

It seems you can’t turn around without another proposal for a new hospital in Crawley slapping you in the face. This week it is Wilky Property Holdings and their partners with plans for a business centre, luxury homes and a hospital near the airport.

They already have a name for the development, Gatwick Green, and a website for it – devoid of any content.

With hard information very thin on the ground, it is hard to say whether these plans are any good or not, or even whether there is much substance to them. BAA don’t like the plans because of issues around safeguarding for possible future runways, Reigate and Banstead council don’t like them because they don’t like any development anywhere near Gatwick, and Crawley council don’t like them either. Me? I would argue that we need some decent, affordable homes much more than we need ‘luxury’ homes. Its possible that we need a good quantity of affordable and social housing more than we need anything.

Reigate and Banstead obviously have real concerns about the so-called strategic gap. Realistically that is sensible for them: they can see the possibility of Horley getting sucked into a possible future unitary authority based on an expanded Crawley, and don’t fancy that at all.

BAA Gatwick are still clinging to the possibility of a second runway, even though BAA as a whole would really prefer to see Heathrow getting a new runway.

Crawley council’s objection seems to be that this development is not in the current local plan, or whatever the new name for it is.

It looks to me like the area in question is more or less what has been referred to as the North-East Sector which was always earmarked for development as a new neighbourhood, which would have had some small amount of business and community facilities in it, but predominantly ‘normal’ housing and certainly not a major employment centre and not with any sort of planning gain on the scale of a new hospital.

The hospital is the key here. It is such a major issue locally that you are guaranteed to get attention for your cause if you can manage to to link it to that. So it may be that the whole hospital aspect is just a hook to gain public support and that it is masking an ulterior political motive. There are no detailed plans, no detailed costings, no indication of what facilities the hospital would have or even whether it would fit in the local NHS or be largely private.

Maybe that is what is upsetting the Tories? They are already doing the same thing with their Campaign 4 Pease Pottage Hospital. That is another ill-conceived, vague, proposal for a hospital, where the main aim is to drum up support for something otherwise unwelcome. Are the Tories really upset because Gatwick Green is pissing on their plans to generate political capital out of the public’s desire for a hospital?

Tags: ··

7 Comments so far ↓

  • Keir

    Thanks for the link to my blog. Just read your profile, I too remember the day I got my Spectrum, I had the ZX-80 and ZX-81 before that. Oh those simple days.

    I must admit I’m not up-to-date with the Crawley Hospital problems. Although my sister (who still lives in Crawley) had to give birth to her child in a taxi to Redhill because there is no maternity ward in Crawley. Ridiculous for a town that size.

    ps – I think I might have thanked you before under a previous incarnation, a conversation about Nick Hilton an ex-labour councillor for Broadfield rings a bell. But I think your blog went under a different name then or had a different look.

    Anyway thanks for the link.

  • Keir

    And another thing whilst I’m rambling – I’m glad Crawley Town seem to be digging themselves out of the hole their owners got them into. Lets hope West Ham can do the same. Although I am beginning to give up hope of that.

  • Dharma

    There was a perfect site for a new hospital .. The old lesuire center, Good transport links, walking distance between the 2 train stations. an obvious location that everyone from the local and surrounding areas could use public transport to get to.

    When the local teens kick off at Ikon on a saturday night they would have far to go to get patched up !

  • Gordon Seekings

    The Old Leisure site would have been perfect as you say, however the sale of the site paid for most of the new Leisure Centre……..

  • Dharma

    i guess so, but surely there is enough money in a town the size of crawley to fund a sports facility ? Was it really a case of one or the other ? Even then surely a hospital takes priority over a lesuire facility ?

  • Gordon Seekings

    It’s a bit like comparing Chalk and Cheese. The old Leisure Centre site/building etc. was owned by the Borough Council. Hospital provision is not a Borough Council service.

    One of these days this country may get round to thinking about joined up services… 🙁

  • Danivon

    Gordon – the land owndership is not the issue, after all, the Pease Pottage site is also owned by CBC.

    The issue is that the NHS decide where to build hospitals, and Councils have nothing to do with it. Despite what the people of Crawley think, CBC has always wanted a proper hospital, and always opposed the transfer of services to East Surrey, but they can’t actually enforce this policy by law.

    Besides, hospitals cost a lot more to build and run than Leisure Centres.

    I’m also not sure that the Haslett Ave site was all that good:

    One problem with the current site is the size (and the Leisure Centre site isn’t all that big).

    Another problem is transport. The centre of Crawley can get pretty congested (I’ve sat in queues along Haslett Avenue in my car too often). It is also a fair way from the M23 (while East Surrey has a secret slip road).

    The current Leisure Centre site would be better – as would Pease Pottage, west of Bewbush or (perhaps…) near the A264 – M23 junction by Copthorne.