Issued: May 13, 2016
Parish council to take up airfield hospital idea
A councillor's idea that North Weald Airfield could be a suitable site for a district general hospital to replace the current Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, has received the support of the parish council.
Councillor Nigel Bedford's suggestion was supported, in principle, by North Weald Bassett Parish Council which will now recommend to Epping Forest District Council that this is an ideal opportunity to work with Harlow Council and look at developing an area of the airfield.
Mr Bedford has highlighted the airfield's good road links - with the M11 south to Whipps Cross Hospital, the M11 north to Addenbrookes in Cambridge, and east on the A414 to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford.
He also stated that the air ambulance is already based at the airfield, and adds that the fire and ambulance stations in Epping and Ongar could be relocated to tge create a "mixed use emergency service base".
All the locations - including the current Harlow hospital site - could then be developed for housing, Mr Bedford states.
Mr Bedford adds that he believes a hospital could be accommodated without interferring with aviation at the airfield.
He told Monday's council meeting: This would be a good opportunity to make good use of the airfield. I can see this as a way of supporting flying at the airfield. We would be securing the airfield.
"We could lease the land on a 100-year lease, generating revenue income and that income could sustain flying by maintaining the runway."
He added that the airfield location for a hospital would benefit local people with shorter travelling times than to potential new hospital sites north of Harlow.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust has issued the following media statement:
"The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust is currently working with its strategic partners, including local authorities and commissioning groups, to plan for the future population growth predicted in the area and ensure that there are sustainable high quality services in the long term.
"As part of that work the Trust is exploring all options including development of the existing hospital site and potential alternative sites in the Harlow area."
Epping Forest District Council, which owns the airfield, has issued the following media statement.
"We are aware that future expansion of the Princess Alexandra site is limited and the health authority is exploring possible options for another site.
"We are working with neighbouring councils as part of the Local Plan process to include strategic factors such as health provision but we have not been given any indication that North Weald is being considered as a likely option.
"Considering the catchment area for Princess Alexandra, we understand they are looking further north."