‘Burnt out wreck’ of North Wing dragging down the area, meeting told

Bedford Hospital North Wing (Image: Jon Pauling)

The ‘burnt-out wreck’ of Shires House at Bedford Hospital’s North Wing is ‘grim’ and is dragging the whole area down, a meeting was told.

Bedford Borough Council’s Trustees of the House of Industry Estate Management Committee held yesterday (October 19) was given an update on the site by Paul Smith, chief officer for commercial services and business transformation.

Mr Smith told the Committee that East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) is currently engaging with the council over its case for change at the site.

“The proposals include the provision of a new mental health facility for adults,” he said.

“The design will be delivered in consultation with the Heritage and Planning Compliance Team.”

Shires House, part of the old North Wing hospital site in Kimbolton Road, was destroyed by fire in January 2019, and its current appearance is a concern of committee member Councillor Tom Wootton (Conservative Party, Wyboston Ward).

“My question is about what we used to call the Old Workhouse,” he said.

“I know there’s very little the officers can do, but I just wondered, my heartfelt plea, can we please do something?

“It is slowly falling down, it looks really grim and lots of people come to Bedford and it looks really poor in the centre of our town.

“This burnt-out wreck right in the middle [of Bedford] surrounded by rubbishy weeds.

“This is the centre of our town, it’s something that should be a premier [site] and it looks grim.

“Every time it comes along I raise it, and I hope that officers can meet with the health people and they can bear on them that it’s just dragging the whole area down,” Councillor Wootton said.

The committee chair, councillor Christine McHugh (LibDems, Goldington Ward) said, “I think it’s likely that the council’s Heritage and Planning Compliance Team will want to preserve it in all its faded splendour.

“Whereas, I think this committee has been more open-minded about its future.”

Mr Smith said he will discuss this with his team.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter

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