New flats will be a burden on Southend health care NHS bosses fear

New blocks of flats in Southend are set to get the green light, despite fears by NHS bosses that GP surgeries will not be able to cope with the “unsustainable burden” .

An application to demolish two dilapidated warehouses and build a pair of three-storey blocks of flats in Sutton Road consisting of 33 homes have been recommended for approval.

The blocks of one-, two- and three-bedroom flats will consist of 100 per cent affordable housing and will be run by Estuary Housing Association.

Commenting on the application in a report to Southend’s development control committee, a local “NHS Clinical Commissioning Group”, said: “Further capacity would be required at the nearest medical practices, and this should be secured through a planning obligation via a Section 106 agreement.

“In the absence of such a contribution the development would place an unsustainable burden upon local healthcare services.”

Ian Gilbert, councillor responsible for economic recovery, regeneration and housing, said: “This is the first time I can recall the NHS saying that. We do need affordable housing and the onus should really be on the Government and the NHS to be able to provide the necessary services which will enable that to happen.

“We’ve had a lot of large private developments which have had very little affordable housing so I would question whether a stronger case should have been made for contributions from those towards local health services.”

Cllr Gilbert added: “If it is an all affordable development by a housing association then the margins and the ability to contribute is going to be less. The Government gives councils housing targets and threatens to remove planning powers when we fall short of that, so the onus is on them to deliver the infrastructure that supports that.”

The council received four letters of objection to the plans.

Planning officers concluded: “The council has a deficit in housing land supply so the tilted balance in favour of sustainable development is applied when determining the application.

“The development would provide 33 additional dwellings for the city and 100 per cent affordable housing secured through a legal agreement, which would be public benefits, and would re-use previously developed land for an appropriate purpose.”

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Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter