Leader calls for review of NHS funding to support housing growth

 The Leader of Malvern Hills District Council has called on the Government to review the way funding is provided to hospitals to cope with the development of new homes.

Cllr Sarah Rouse said the current situation was unfair on healthcare providers and councils shouldn't be forced to choose between their local NHS and funding the infrastructure required to support new housing developments.

Cllr Rouse was speaking after Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust requested Malvern Hills District Council asked developers for more than £7million in Section 106 money linked to the building of over 4,800 new homes to the south and west of Worcester. Section 106 money is funding given by developers to pay for infrastructure such as new schools, open spaces and highways improvements.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust argued the current Government formula resulted in a delay between homes actually being built and occupied and additional money being allocated to help healthcare systems cope with the extra demand. This, they said, left them with an ongoing revenue deficit and as a result it was only fair that developers should pay to fill in the gap. Similar requests have been made to other councils across the country.

However, the request was rejected by members of the council's Northern Area Planning Committee at a meeting on Wednesday (14 August) after they heard granting it would result in less money for highway improvements, education and affordable housing provision linked to the developments. It would also jeopardise the viability of the developments, which have already been granted outline planning permission in principle, but a delay in finalising legal agreements meant the Trust's request could still be considered.

Cllr Rouse said: "It is totally unacceptable that councils are being put in a position where they have to choose between funding vital infrastructure and the NHS.

"We have great sympathy with the position the Trust is in and call on the Government to review the funding formula to address the issue the Trust has raised. We will be writing to our MP to ask for her support in that."

As some of the developments fall within the Wychavon and Worcester City Council boundaries, they will be asked to consider the Trust's request separately.

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