‘Derelict’ hospital to be transformed with 107 new homes, NHS mental health clinic and special educational needs school

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A ‘derelict’ hospital in South West London will be turned into 107 new homes, an NHS mental health clinic and a special educational needs school. Plans to complete the redevelopment of Barnes Hospital, in East Sheen, have now been approved in addition to the new school and mental health centre which were approved for the site in May last year.

Richmond Council approved outline plans in 2020 to bulldoze most buildings on the site on South Worple Way to make way for a phased development with a new mental health centre, special educational needs school and homes, after South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust deemed the hospital surplus to requirements as it had been underused for more than a decade. Developer Star Land Realty UK, with the help of development managers LS Estates, bought the residential plot from the trust in 2019.

The outline permission included approval for 83 new homes to be provided on the western half of the site. Star Land Realty UK later submitted plans to increase the number of new-build homes from 80 to 104 in apartment blocks up to three storeys tall, along with revamping two existing buildings on the site to provide three extra homes. These plans were approved by the council’s planning committee on May 22. The scheme includes 24 affordable homes, with 19 homes per cent to be offered at social rent and five homes under shared ownership.

Mark Swetman, chief executive of LS Estates, told the committee the ‘once-busy hospital’ has become ‘increasingly derelict as both the trust and Star Land have worked towards a worthwhile future of the site’. He said the scheme would ‘transform this degenerated brownfield site into a sustainable, healthy and thriving new neighbourhood for Mortlake’.

Mr Swetman added: “Our scheme represents a strong deal for Mortlake – delivering much-needed new homes, including 24 affordable homes for local people, new community green space and significant investment in local infrastructure that benefits both the neighbouring community and the adjacent wards.”

Barnes Isolation Hospital first opened in 1889 to care for patients with infectious diseases. It was later renamed and mainly provided mental health services by the early 1990s. It has not provided inpatient services since 2013 and existing outpatient services have been temporarily moved to Teddington to allow the new mental health clinic to be built.

Councillors expressed disappointment at the level of affordable housing offered by the residential scheme at the meeting on May 22, but agreed the new homes it proposes are still much-needed. Green councillor Niki Crookdake argued councillors did not have all the information needed to agree to the level of affordable housing that had been put forward. She called for the decision to be delayed for this to be ‘resolved’ as the council ‘can’t have another missed opportunity to maximise affordable homes, particularly given the shortage of brownfield sites in Richmond’. 

Lib Dem councillor Chris Varley said if the criteria used to decide the maximum level of affordable housing that could be provided by the scheme ‘means that we only get 22 per cent, it’s not enough’ but added he would support the application as ‘a lot of work has gone into this and we should take our affordable housing where we can get it’.

Lucy Thatcher, planning officer, said the number of affordable homes offered by the scheme is ‘disappointing’ but that an ‘independently-assessed’ viability review had ruled it was the maximum amount it could deliver. She said: “Whilst there have been some disagreements with inputs, the council have used what they deem as reasonable inputs and that has come out that they are delivering the maximum amount of affordable housing on this site as feasible. Also, the tenure mix reflects the identified need for 79 per cent social rent, with 21 per cent shared ownership.” Councillors unanimously approved the scheme at the meeting.

The new mental health centre is expected to open on the site in spring next year. It will be an outpatient facility for adults and form part of South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust.

The new 90-place school, known as London River Academy, is set to open later in autumn next year. It will be run by Beckmead Trust for students between seven and 19 years old with social, emotional and mental health needs.

Photos: Barnes Hospital, South Worple Way. Credit: Google Maps 

CGI of London River Academy. Credit: BDP, provided in Richmond Council documents


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