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[15 OCT 99] COVENTRY HEALTH AUTHORITY NEWS
Loughton Welcomes Walsgrave Decision

Work has already started to push ahead with planning the new super hospital at Walsgrave.

Within minutes of hearing that Health Minister John Denham had decided the new hospital should be built at Walsgrave, the application for planning permission at the city centre Coventry & Warwickshire site was withdrawn.

John Loughton, chief executive of Walsgrave Hospital Trust, said:

"We have a fantastic opportunity.

"But there are many hurdles to cross. It was a difficult decision and we totally appreciate the views of the City Council who wanted the hospital in the city centre.

"The council were doing the right things for the city of Coventry and I like to think we were doing our job in securing health services.

"We will now have a 200 million hospital and another 13 million has been allocated for a clinical sciences building as part of the medical school linked to the University of Warwick. In the next few years it will be one of the top medical schools in the country."

Loughton said there were two priorities however. First to request removal of the planning embargo placed on Walsgrave by the Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions.

"Until that is lifted we cannot apply for planning permission for the hospital to be built at the Walsgrave site," he explained. "We have already sought legal opinion from Queens Counsel who was very firm that there are no grounds for planning permission not to be granted."

He said the other priority was to try to accelerate plans to develop the mental health facilities at Walsgrave quite apart from the main hospital project.

He was backed up by Chris Howgrave-Graham, chief executive of Coventry Health Authority who said:

"It is our highest single priority. We have some very poor mental health facilities at present."

John McGuigan, Strategic Director (City Development), said the City Council would now offer input to identify what needed to be done to steer the project through its planning application.

"As we did with the Arena 2000 and Coventry Colliery projects, we want to spool it through as soon as possible," said McGuigan.
  

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CWN / Health / Coventry Health Authority / 15 Oct 99

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