Council leader defends decision to allow new hospital ward to be built without planning permission

HARLOW COUNCIL leader Mark Wilkinson has defended a decision to give a green light to building work at Princess Alexandra Hospital without planning permission.

The £2.8 million ward is needed as the hospital continually runs close to capacity and any surge in demand due to bad or extremely cold weather or winter illness leaves it struggling to find all the beds required.

But it has left a problem with parking with many local residents feeling they have borne the brunt of the problem.

One eagle resident noticed on the council planning portal that although an application had been made, permission had not been granted.

Resident and former councillor, Lee Dangerfield has also voiced his concerns.

Mr Dangerfield said: “A new ward is vital for Harlow and I congratulate the hospital for gaining the investment. But I feel they have been let down by the council who seem to have run roughshod over the rules.

“If a resident decides to build a granny flat and does not have planning permission then they would have a planning officer on top of them immediately.”

Leader of Harlow Council, councillor Mark Wilkinson has defended their decision. He said: “Investment in the hospital’s temporary ward to deal with winter demand to help reduce waiting lists and avoid the cancellation of routine operations is welcomed by the council and the benefit it will have for residents.

“A planning application was submitted to the council on 12 November 2013 and is subject to statutory consultation and the application is expected to be determined by the Development Management Committee by the end of December.

“It is normal practice for council officers to discuss plans with an applicant ahead of them submitting a planning application and it is not unusual for an organisation, business or individual to start building work while the planning application is being determined.”

A planning consultant, that did not wish to be named told YH that it isn’t unknown for such building to take place.

They said: “If there is a hurry-up on an application like this or a real public interest and it has been lodged then this can happen.

‘Let us be honest. Who would object against this?”pah3

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