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D-day for £9m Norwich hospital revamp - but neighbours fear it could trigger collapse of chalk pits

An illustrative view looking north from Bowthorpe Road towards the proposed new hospital. Photo: GL Hearn

An illustrative view looking north from Bowthorpe Road towards the proposed new hospital. Photo: GL Hearn

GL Hearn

The £9m revamp of a Norwich hospital looks likely to get the go-ahead, but concern the work could trigger subsidence to nearby homes means further tests will be needed.

People living in Merton Road fear work on the hospital site could cause subsidence. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYPeople living in Merton Road fear work on the hospital site could cause subsidence. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A decision over the transformation of the Norwich Community Hospital site, off Bowthorpe Road, will be made by members of Norwich City Council’s planning committee on Thursday, February 14.

Some existing buildings 
would be knocked down and replaced with a new hospital, alongside a new care home, care units and worker accommodation. The Mulberry Unit would be retained.

City Hall officers are recommending outline permission for Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust’s scheme is granted.

But concerns over ground stability mean the trust will need to provide further information to the council as various phases of the scheme progress.

Norwich Community Hospital in Bowthorpe Road. 
PHOTO: Nick ButcherNorwich Community Hospital in Bowthorpe Road. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

People living in Merton Road, to the east of the site, were among objectors. They said many properties in the area sit above unmapped and unstable chalk tunnels - and expressed fears vibrations from work could cause a collapse.

Council officers say geo-technical assessments have been submitted and further surveys, investigations and testing would be needed 
before work started on parts of the site.

Officers said: “The approach is to ensure risks to neighbouring properties and the hospital complex are maintained at the lowest possible level.

“The information obtained from these investigations should help enable safe and durable mitigation works to be undertaken in order to stabilise the north eastern part of the hospital site and Merton Road in order to ensure long term ground stability.”

Officers added: “A grant of planning permission will give some certainty to the acceptance of redevelopment principles and enable the applicant to seek the allocation of funds to bring forward a final scheme.”

Paul Cracknell, the trust’s deputy chief executive, previously outlined the revamp’s benefits.

He said: “If approved, the redevelopment of our site will enable us to develop a new health campus that will be fit for purpose, which will include a modern and purpose-built community hospital, as well as a number of associated new health and care facilities.”

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