In May this year, Malvern Hills District Council (MHDC) had refused a planning application submitted in 2015 to demolish the former Malvern Community Hospital in Lansdowne Crescent and replace it with a 50 bed care home. That decision fully supported the strong stand Malvern Civic Society has maintained for the retention of this heritage asset.. Clive Hooper, Chairman of Malvern Civic Society, commented “The Society has argued that if the proposals were implemented they would have an adverse impact upon the town’s historic environment and would result in substantial harm to
the Great Malvern Conservation Area. This applies equally to the new planning application recently submitted to MHDC. The building is in good order and not in a ruinous state and should be kept. The Society’s Planning Sub-Committee discussed the new plans at its meeting on 28 September and will be writing formally to MHDC.” Mr Hooper went on to say “Malvern Civic Society has always recognised the local importance of the old hospital building, and this is reflected by the building’s submission by the Society to MHDC, together with other properties, for consideration for its Local Listing. We also recognise the value which MHDC has attached to preserving the building: it produced a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) in 2006 outlining the desirability of keeping it.”
“The new planning application submitted by the developers, Montpellier Estates, notes that they had prepared a paper ‘to prove that the existing hospital could not be viably converted to residential housing due to the physical and financial constraints imposed by the existing building’. Evidence submitted on this as part of the consultation process was flawed and completely failed to make the case. We understand that there are other developers keen to purchase the property in order to convert it into residential accommodation, but that they are currently locked out from making an offer to purchase it by the NHS trust through the agreement it has with Montpellier.”
“Mention is made in the current application of the MHDC’s planning policy SWDP 6 on the Historic Environment: this requires that development proposals should conserve and enhance the significance of heritage assets including their setting, which includes conservation areas and undesignated heritage assets. However, no mention is made of the SPD in this context, or the extensive report from Historic England, both of which underline the desirability of retaining the building.”
Malvern Civic Society had previously campaigned for the old community hospital to be given a Grade II statutory listing. The former hospital was built between 1909-11 by William Henman FRIBA and was given to the people of Malvern by local benefactor C. W. Dyson Perrins; it has heritage connections with development of hospital architecture and interesting innovative technological features (such as the early use of reinforced concrete) and quality design and internal fittings. Historic England’s criteria for assessing whether a building should be added to the national heritage list for England is that the building in question should be under serious threat or have national significance if built after 1840. As the former hospital was at risk of demolition, it fitted the criteria for assessment as under threat. The Secretary of State had concluded that the building was not nationally significant enough to have statutory listing, but that it was protected under local policy and was in the Conservation Area. However, the report accompanying the minister’s decision, in noting the strong local architectural interest of the building, did mention ‘its strong local presence, expressed in the scale and massing of its design, its quality features, and its local historic significance, which was recognised by its inclusion in the conservation area’.
Clive Hooper, Chairman.