New cancer centre for 2013

A NEW £9m cancer centre will be built at Harrogate District Hospital after planning permission was granted this week.

And planners also approved a new two-storey car park for the grounds of the hospital - despite some concerns over the development.

The committee considered the application for the car park first, debating the likely impact on neighbours and those visiting the hospital.

Wendy Hill, whose home in Lancaster Park Road overlooks the hospital, said: “You can’t get along Lancaster Park Road at peak times. Even the local bus service stopped because the buses couldn’t get through.”

Hospital representatives told the meeting the new car park was the best option of around 20 which had been considered and created the same number of new spaces as would be lost in the building of the new cancer centre. They said a travel plan was being created to encourage staff, patients and visitors to walk, cycle or use public transport to access the hospital.

The car park plans were passed by 11 votes to two, with two abstentions. The councillors voting against the plan said they felt parking had not been properly thought through.

Among those in favour was Coun Reg Marsh, who said: “I think if we vote against it, we will lose this unit.”

Once the car park had been approved, councillors moved on to consider the proposals for the new cancer centre, which has been part-funded by a donation of £3.5m from Sir Robert Ogden. Macmillan Cancer Support has contributed the same amount, with the remaining £2m provided by Harrogate and District NHS FoundationTrust.

Councillors asked whether the unit could have been scaled back to allow trees along Wetherby Road to be retained, giving more screening. But they heard the building was as small as it could possibly be made while still offering space for the necessary facilities.

Coun Shirley Fawcett said: “I think this is an important part of the hospital and it’s such a marvellous donation the trust have been given.

“We have got to get this through to save all the people who in past times have had to travel to Leeds for treatment.”

Councillors voted unanimously to approve the plans. Work on the car park is set to begin this autumn and the new Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Cancer Unit is due to open in the summer of 2013.

Speaking after the meeting, hospital chief executive Richard Ord said: “We understand that there will inevitably be some disruption during the works, but are working hard to ensure it is kept to a minimum.

“We are very grateful for the patience of our patients, visitors, neighbours and staff as we go about this major project to make cancer services in Harrogate world class.”