Councillors criticised for King Edward VII Hospital decision

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Chichester district councillors have been slammed for their decision to support multi-million pound plans to transform the site of Midhurst’s former King Edward VII Hospital.

Now Easebourne parish councillors have written to the South Downs National Park Authority, who will make the final decision.

They are warning the large amount of development planned is too high a price to pay for the restoration of the listed buildings.

In a letter to the park authority’s head of planning, Jim Redmond, parish councillors said they were amazed their views were not considered.

Chichester district councillors decided to recommend approval of the plans which include some 220 new homes in the grounds of the former hospital.

Parish council chairman, Ian Heustice, said: “Access to the new saved buildings would be on a once-a-year basis. Is once a year going to compensate for the 365 days a year that the environment will be spoiled?”

The plans got the overwhelming backing of district councillors despite a recommendation from their officers to object.

Officers said they were not convinced there was sufficient certainty the scheme would be delivered.

Helen Moore, managing director of applicants City and Country Group, asked the committee for support to bring the site’s ‘torrid planning history’ to an end.

“We ask you to send an unequivocal message to the national park authority,” she declared.

“We have the expertise, the enthusiasm and the track record to deliver this challenging project.”

Cllr Hamilton said the ‘well researched’ application was from a company with a good track record on repairing historic buildings.

And Cllr Rob Field said: “This is our last chance – we will not get another. If we want to save that building we have to make a positive decision.”

But Cllr Heather Caird said a listed building was only worth saving if it was for the benefit of the community, and she did not believe this was being offered for the benefit of the community.