PLANNERS should wait to decide the future of Llangollen’s former cottage hospital until the town’s planned new health centre is opened, a community group has urged.
Martin Crumpton, chairman of Keep Llangollen Special (KLS), has written to planning chiefs voicing his organisation’s concerns.
He fears if the now closed cottage hospital is redeveloped and Llangollen’s proposed health centre fails to materialise, the town would be “permanently and irrevocably be left with nothing, just the GP surgery, which for years has been chronically short of space for its 9,000 registered patients”.
He also outlined KLS’s concerns about pedestrian access to the new health centre, planned for the site of the derelict River Lodge, off the A539.
He received a reply from Iolo McGregor, corporate improvement officer, business improvement and modernisation for Denbighshire Council, which said: “In order to improve the pedestrian route to the proposed health centre, we have identified a couple of locations where pedestrians will be able to cross the road in order to avoid the section of Mill Street with no pavement. Each crossing point will consist of dropped kerbs, tactile paving and a ‘build-out’.
“A build-out is where the road is narrowed on one side by extending the pavement out to the centre line of the road thereby halving the distance that pedestrians will need to cross.”
Mr Crumpton was told by the planners the future of the cottage hospital and the possibility of the health centre failing to go ahead were matters for the health board and not the county council.
He has now written back to the council to say the public consultation for planning application to demolish the cottage hospital ends on June 3.
“We’ve only just been informed of the measures proposed to make access to the planned health centre build along Mill Street safe,” he said. “Our evaluation of those measures casts doubt on the viability of the new primary health centre which, in turn, makes the need to retain the cottage hospital important and urgent, if not imperative.”
He urged Denbighshire Council planners to withhold the decision on the demolition until the new health centre has been completed.
“If, having evaluated our concerns, your intention is to permit the redevelopment of the Riverside Lodge, then we ask for a sensible, precautionary compromise – construct the traffic-calming measures first or at least simulate them with cones and temporary lights,” he added.
“This approach has the virtue of finding if a different approach is needed, or even if there is another solution.
“That stretch has been identified as unsafe and if our fears turn out to be unfounded they would have to have been constructed anyway, so there’s no additional cost involved.
“If the measures fail and have to be removed then the costs will only run into thousands rather than the millions at risk in building a health centre which patients can’t reach safely.”