NHS won’t get funding for 1,400 additional patients from Clapham development

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Bedford Borough Hall Bedford Borough council signage and entrance
Image: Bedford Independent

The local NHS is to get over £330,000 less than it was hoping for from a new Clapham development because it couldn’t evidence why it wanted more money, a meeting heard.

Monday’s Planning Committee (17 June) considered an outline planning application to build up to 500 new homes and a school on land off Milton Road, Clapham.

The discussion included Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board’s (BLMK ICB) application for funding for the health services needed by up to 1,400 additional patients.

Read: 500 new homes plus 3G sports pitch approved for Clapham site

The ICB said the development would affect the “severely constrained” Priory Medical Practice in the village.

As part of their planning application, developers take part in negotiations with planners and other partners to determine the financial contribution needed for local infrastructure changes to support and manage their developments.

This can include upgrading roads and footpaths, provide funding for schools, and/or sports facilities, and health services.

Cllr Martin Towler (Conservative, Riseley), the borough council’s portfolio holder for neighbourhoods & communities, health and wellbeing, said: “[When this application] previously came to planning… there was a figure of something like £850,000 for the GPs service, etc…

“…it seems to have dropped down to £517,339.31.”

Greg Logan, principal planning officer, said the figure hadn’t changed.

Cllr Towler said: “I just remember discussing it with the ICB and they were expecting something like £850,000 for an extra 1,400 people.

Jon Shortland, chief officer for planning, infrastructure and economic growth, said: “They were unable to evidence the basis for that number.

“The number that we’ve put into both reports is the number that can be justified.”

Councillor Towler replied: “As we did bring to full council a petition to actually look at favouring GPs services [for funding], it seems a very small amount to actually get those people into the GP services.”

Mr Shortland said: “It’s not a small amount, but it is the largest amount which could be justified by the NHS evidence.”

Cllr Towler asked: “Can we be assured that next time we actually look at a higher figure, because building costs have gone up by a considerable amount.”

Mr Shortland said: “I’m happy to give that assurance, but what I would say is that even if they come up with a higher figure they must provide the evidence to support it.

“They can’t just pluck a figure out of the air. I don’t think it’s plucked out of the air, I think it’s evidence-based,” cllr Towler said.

Mr Shortland responded: “At the risk of prolonging this, if they have got evidence they really ought to supply it to us and they haven’t.”

The outline planning application for the new homes and a school was approved.

by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter