One of London’s largest mental health providers has defended its plans to redevelop Barnes Hospital in a move campaigners insist will put lives at risk.
Proposals by South West London & St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust (SWLSTG) were approved in June by Richmond Council to redevelop the site in South Worple Way including a SEN (special educational needs) school and health centre.
The remaining 56% of the plot will see 83 homes built – of which 18 will be ‘affordable’ – and an underground car park. More than 250 objections to the plans were put forward, many concerning safety, pollution, traffic and overcrowding around the level crossing in White Hart Lane.
Campaigners in East Sheen believe the plans have been rushed through without an adequate transport assessment from Network Rail.
Barnes Hospital Neighbours Group spokesperson Sarah Beeching, 49, said: “We want our elected leaders to convert their political soundbites about congestion, air pollution and eco-friendly cities into action.
“The site is too small and too inaccessible to tolerate the increased traffic that will be caused by squeezing over 80 units onto the site.
“Our air quality will suffer, and it will endanger lives.
“We urge the council to rethink these proposals.”
Network Rail submitted an objection to the planning application.
The access road on South Worple Way is 3.3m wide.
DANGEROUS: Concerns have been raised over increased use of a busy level crossing.
A SWLSTG spokesperson said: “Inpatient services have not been provided at Barnes Hospital since 2013 and the site is significantly underused, with only 13% of the site currently being used to provide NHS healthcare services.
“The remaining buildings are not fit for purpose as their condition and design make them unsuitable for modern mental healthcare services, and the fact that they are no longer in use has unfortunately made them a target for vandalism, theft and anti-social behaviour.”
The spokesperson said the approved plans included a much-needed health centre to serve the local community and a SEN school to provide specialist support for children living in the borough.
“It will help those families who are currently having to travel long distances to access the support they need for their children,” the spokesperson added.
“There will be further opportunities for the community to give their views.”
A Richmond Council spokesperson said: “Both written and verbal representations were considered in making the decision.
“The community is encouraged to continue to engage with the council on the next phase of the development process.”