Residents voice anger at plans for homes on Frenchay Hospital site
NEARLY 200 angry residents turned out last night to voice their objections to hundreds of homes being built on the Frenchay Hospital site.
One of the residents said it would create a carbuncle on the face of one of the prettiest villages in the country.
Most of the health services will be transferred within two years to the new super-hospital which is being built at Southmead.
And now a planning document has been drawn up which suggests that many of the old hospital buildings could be pulled down to make way for 550 homes.
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But many residents made it clear at the meeting in Frenchay village hall that they were worried that their community would be ruined by so many homes being built.
Winterbourne parish councillor Carol Thorne said the consultants working for the health trust had the sole aim of maximising profits by winning approval for as many homes as they could on the 70-acre site.
Another parish councillor, Eurof Lewis, said the issue of traffic had been ignored in the planning document.
"We are already at logjam in the village as it is – building new homes is not going to make it any easier," he said.
But the biggest roar of applause went to resident Paul Green who has lived in the village for 38 years. He said the health trust stood to gain about £15 million from selling the land for housing.
But he said this was a drop in the ocean compared to the £430 million cost of building the new hospital.
"Frenchay is a very valuable commodity and typifies the image of an English village," he said.
"If 550 houses are built in a short space of time, then we will have a carbuncle on the face of Frenchay and we have to ask whether giving away this jewel for such a small amount of money is worth it," he added.
He said a smaller amount of land should be made available for development.
Alan Jocelyn, chairman of the Residents' Users' Group (RUG) which was set up when the planning document was first published, said conservation orders should be imposed on the village's open space to restrict development.
Resident Paul Salmon who has lived in the village for five years, said 3,000 vehicles an hour pass through the village at peak times and if hundreds of homes were built, then it would create gridlock.
Bob Woodward, founder of the charity CLIC who lives in the village, said: "We are facing a dangerous situation in Frenchay and therefore we have got to get stuck in and write letters to the council to express our views.
"That site is an absolute dream to a developer but we have got to make sure that dream does not become our nightmare."
Winterbourne parish councillors called the meeting to gather views about the future of the Frenchay Hospital site.
Residents were urged to send in their views to South Gloucestershire Council by September 14.
After their comments have been collated, then the council will draw up a planning blueprint for the site which will give guidelines to developers on what they are likely to win planning permission for.
Mike Hardeley, a property lawyer and member of RUG, said they must test the evidence which is given by the consultants to support the case for building so many homes.
But he added it was crucial to put forward what they want to see on the site – not just say what they were against.
He said: "That will be our legacy for the village – to make sure our community works in the future."
North Bristol NHS Trust insists that nothing has yet been decided and consultations will continue before an outline planning application is submitted, probably early next year.
Under the proposals, housing on the hospital site would be split into five different area.
On the 1940s former American hospital site, there would be a higher density of two to three storey homes built in the style of a Georgian terrace facing a line of trees known as Lime Tree Avenue.
Where there are modern wards, a village residential area has been proposed with a range of one, two and three-storey buildings with off-street parking and communal green spaces.
Two suburban residential areas south of the current main access road are also included in the plans as well as a residential area in the north of the site.