Plans for new housing on former Lancaster hospital site set for green light despite local concerns

Plans to build 53 new homes on land once part of the former Royal Albert Hospital off Ashton Road in Lancaster will go before the city council on Monday.

Thursday, 28th January 2021, 12:30 pm
The former Derby Home in Lancaster.
The former Derby Home in Lancaster.

The plans have altered slightly since they were first submitted to the council last January, and were re-submitted in December after changes were made to the affordable housing provision that could be provided.

Council officers have now recommended the plans be approved when they go before council officers on Monday February 1, subject to various conditions.

Oakmere Homes has applied to build the new houses, which include a three-storey building comprising eight two-bed apartments and the conversion of Derby Home to eight one-bed apartments.

The former Royal Albert Hospital, now Jamea Al Kauthar Girls' Islamic College.

The development would also include regrading of land, creation of parking areas, internal roads including associated upgrading works to Pathfinders Drive, footpaths, drainage infrastructure and open space provision.

The proposals include the conversion of the dilapidated Derby Home, which was originally built in 1913 as part of the Royal Albert Hospital.

The Royal Albert Hospital, originally called the ‘Royal Albert Idiot Asylum for idiots and imbeciles of the seven northern counties’, was built to the designs of E.G.Paley from 1868-73 and is a grade II* listed building.

An estate of buildings developed around the hospital (now Jamea Al Kauthar Girls’ Islamic College) during the later 19th and early 20th centuries, thereby enlarging the facility, and this estate now includes a number of grade II listed buildings, such as former farm buildings of the Royal Albert Farm which lie south east of Derby Home.

Derby Home is not listed, but it is considered a non-designated heritage asset on account of its age, style and relationship to the former Hospital and associated buildings.

There have been 39 objections to the scheme submitted to the council, including some from local councillors Abi Mills and Gina Dowding.

Some of these concerns centre around the increased pressure the development would put on the local road network, particularly around the nearby Pointer roundabout.

There is also no bus service and a lack of accessibility to local shops, as well as no education or health care provision.

Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust objects on several grounds, including a lack of detail on the plans to show the impact of the development on the nearby Orchard mental health support service.

Lancaster Civic Society has also objected given the minimal transport connections, poor refuse management and cramped internal designs. They say that overall, it does not adhere with sustainable development principles and should be refused.

But council officers say the scheme will make "a small but valuable contribution towards the supply of market housing in south Lancaster".