Comment from Vice Chair of CHEK
A big question has been going the rounds on social media: should the NHS accept the gift from a developer of land and a built shell for a brand-new hospital in Canterbury?
Developers’ are not seen in a good light by many people. As a former councilor I have had my run-ins with developers over the years, supporting local people against what we saw a totally inappropriate plans to build over the countryside.
I have anyway certain red lines which I would not be prepared to cross to support the offer in the case of the new hospital.NO to any transfer by the NHS of land it owns to the developer. NO to any arrangement whereby the developer gains a contract to provide out-sourced services for the local NHS.
There is a basic fact here which needs to be borne in mind. Canterbury City Council has not shown the Government that it has allocated enough land for housing for future years. It is under pressure to find that land. If it doesn’t ,then the legislation says that developers can pick their own sites without any control by the Council.
In this case any planning application for development would have to go through local democratic processes. The fact remains, this will be a matter for local councilors to decide—and there will be serious matters for local people to consider---loss of farmland near them, how the traffic is dealt with, as against the prospect of a new fit-for-purpose hospital. .Knowing the area as I do, the very least I would want to see in any development is play-space for children, and green areas to walk in.
But—is it morally wrong to accept a gift of land and hospital building from a developer? It is worth remembering that back in the 1930s the Kent and Canterbury Hospital was made possible by the gift of the land by the then landowners, the Mount family.I see no problem in a landowner and a developer donating to the NHS(for the benefit of local people)a considerable part of the profit made on sale and development of the land IF the decision is taken by democratic processes to allow it to happen, and so long as that donation is without conditions.