A HOSPITAL boss has appealed to Hartlepool Borough Council for “flexibility” over the designation of land at the town’s hospital for health use only.
Hospital trust chief executive Alan Foster said the sale of surplus land at the University Hospital of Hartlepool site could bring cash that could be ploughed back into health services.
Councillors unanimously supported a motion proposed at Thursday night’s full council meeting for the Holdforth Road site to be protected by ensuring it can only be used for health-related activities.
It is intended for the stance to be a priority of the council’s new Local Plan.
But Mr Foster attended a meeting of the Hartlepool Health and Wellbeing Board yesterday to ask for some flexibility around the designation.
He said: “It is a plea for flexibility. I have no problem working with the council and providing as much as we can on the site in terms of health services.
It is about flexibility, so we don’t tie ourselves down too much,Alan Foster, Chief Executive of North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust
“Even if we could bring back all the services back to Hartlepool that have previously been centralised over the years we would still have much more land there than we would ever require.”
Mr Foster said the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust still planned to try to develop a new hospital, which would replace Hartlepool and North Tees hospital in Stockton.
But he said: “Notwithstanding that, there is a need to look at what services we can develop on the Hartlepool hospital site.”
Mr Foster said there was an opportunity to work with the council and other health professionals to develop a plan for the site which could be prevented if all of it was restricted for health purposes only.
He said: “I could see an opportunity for working with the council, the hospice and clinical commissioning group where we may be able to get private investment from the sale of part of the site that we could invest into future health services for the people of Hartlepool.
“I think in terms of housing providers and sports facilities and other things, there may be an opportunity to develop a health village which will be mainly health related.
“It is about flexibility so we don’t tie ourselves down too much.”
Coun George Springer told Mr Foster: “What the people of Hartlepool want is the A&E back.”
Mr Foster said talk around town that parts of the site had been sold off were not true.
He said: “The land at Hartlepool hospital is still in the ownership of the trust despite many rumours that bits have been sold off, that is not the case.”
Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher, chairman of the health and wellbeing board said: “At this stage it’s about developing a strategy to safeguard that area in the local plan.”
He said Mr Foster’s comments would be fed back to officers in preparation of the Local Plan.