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78-room NHS development to spark mental health shake-up

Switch to land in Highgate could lead to the demolition of former workhouse buildings at St Pancras Hospital

19 June, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Shirley Franklin of the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition

NHS chiefs have applied for permission to build a new mental health facility that could pave the way for the demolition of St Pancras Hospital.

Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust, which funds mental health services, wants to create a 78-room facility for inpatients on NHS land in Highgate.

Its plan is to move all of its inpatients out of the former workhouse buildings at St Pancras Hospital. Moorfields Eye Hospital wants to move its hospital, near Old Street, into a major new development on the St Pancras site by 2022.

The shake-up of health services has been agreed in principle by the Department of Health.

The mental hospital plan has been criticised by campaigners at the Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition for being a like-for-like replacement, and failing to increase the number of overall beds for mental health patients.

Chairwoman Shirley Franklin said: “There’s a massive shortage of beds. They closed 100 beds in 2011 to cover a shortfall in NHS spending but there’s an increasing number of very sick people who struggle to find beds in mental health facilities.”

The Whittington Education Centre and former NHS staff accommodation block on the Whittington site will be knocked down as part of the plans. The entrance to the new facility would be in Dartmouth Park Hill, close to the entrance to Highgate Mental Health Centre – Camden’s main hospital for mental health patients. The new building would be next to the listed Jenner Building.

The application says “a number of objections have been received from neighbouring occupiers” who want a higher part of the proposed new building to be out of view to “the north-eastern corner of the site”.

The scheme is within 50 metres of the Highgate Conservation Area.

Islington Council officers have recommended permission is granted.


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