Health centre plan for former hospital site in Hornchurch

The NHS hopes to build a huge new health centre on the former St George’s Hospital site to reduce pressure on the struggling Queen’s Hospital in Romford.

After St George’s fell out of use in 2012, a developer hoping to build hundreds of homes bought the Hornchurch site in 2018 for £40 million.

The NHS now wants to build a 5,000sq m centre on the remainder of the Suttons Lane site so it can relocate services from Queen’s Hospital to create more space.

In November last year, Redbridge Council became so concerned by long waits at Queen’s Hospital A&E, which one councillor called “inexcusable”, that it requested a meeting with the NHS.

The health centre will be built by developer Bryden Wood, which met with Havering Council’s planning committee on January 28 to discuss progress on their plans for the site.

The committee heard the NHS wants to move renal dialysis, frailty care, mental health services and treatment for long-term conditions into the new centre from Queen’s and other locations.

The centre will be solely for outpatients and appointments and will also offer cancer diagnostics, primary care, X-rays, acute and community care and minor operations. So far, three GP practices have expressed an interest in moving in.

A Bryden Wood spokesperson said the new centre is “urgently needed to create space” at Queen’s Hospital and will be a “centre of excellence… in south Havering”.

Cllr Graham Williamson (Independent Residents’ Group) said the design was “vastly superior” to earlier plans shown to the council.

However, he raised concerns that the health centre would only have a little over 100 parking spaces for staff and patients.

He said: “If you are going to go to a hospital, you are probably going to be driving because you are not well, especially our aging population.

“It will need very strict management because, if it is left under the control of people, it will be a nightmare.”

Cllr Reg Whitney (Residents’ Group) agreed, arguing the developer that built Queen’s Hospital in the early 2000s had underestimated how many spaces it would need.

He said: “I’m concerned about the parking, we were promised with Queen’s it would not be a problem.

“It was only on our insistence that we had another floor put on the car park. They insisted it was not needed… and I think all know the problems they have got.”

The former hospital is located in the green belt, meaning the developer must show there are “very special circumstances” to justify construction going ahead.

Councillors will meet again to discuss whether these circumstances are met once the finished plans are submitted.

The first residents moved into the more than 350 new homes still being built on the rest of the site by Bellway Homes in September last year.

Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter