Shock deferral of decision on St James’ Hospital development branded an ‘embarrassment’ by deputy council leader

THE deferral of a controversial city development has been branded an 'embarrassment' after it was announced to the surprise of those attending.

By Fiona Callingham
Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 6:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 20th February 2019, 7:34 pm
The main building of St James Hospital, in Milton. Picture: Sarah Standing (150538-1024)
The main building of St James Hospital, in Milton. Picture: Sarah Standing (150538-1024)

Several residents and councillors attended a planning meeting today to object to plans for 107 homes on the St James' Hospital site in Milton.

It was expected a decision on the application would take hours due to the amount of interest in the case.

However, it was thrown out after a 'shock' announcement officers had concluded a day before the meeting that villas due to be demolished on the site were within the curtilage of a listed building, and could be afforded protection.

Deputy leader of the council, Councillor Steve Pitt, said he was 'surprised' this had only just come to light.

He said: 'This is not an application that has just popped up. I am aware that campaign groups have raised this issue before and were given the same answer again and again that they could not be protected.

'Since the advice has changed we need to apologise to the residents who turned up to state their reasons for objections. This is quite embarrassing.'

For Kimberly Barratt, the founder of Keep Milton Green, which has campaigned against the development, it was a minor victory.

Speaking outside the meeting she said: 'This is absolutely fantastic news.

‘We have been fighting for years for these villas and it is an amazing feeling that what we have been fighting for is being recognised. People power can and does work.

'I am unsure why it was so last minute but I am pleased and grateful it was deferred for this reason.

‘We hope that this is a step in the right direction to get the villas recognised and that developers realise that they cannot continue to cram in large scale housing without having to listen to residents first.'

So far more than 300 residents have objected to the housing development on the St James' site.

If approved the 107 dwellings will be built including family homes and three apartment blocks.

The application will go to a future planning meeting.