Approval for new 'health hub' in Dunstable with 98 apartments for elderly

Central Bedfordshire’s first health hub will be “an enormously valuable addition to Dunstable”, it has been stated.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 12:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th October 2020, 12:10 pm

The healthcare project - which includes affordable housing for the elderly - has been approved on land at Grove Park, behind GoBowling on Court Drive.

Central Bedfordshire's mixed-use development comprises a four-storey health and social care hub, 98 residential apartments for older people, with access, parking and landscaping.

There will be 80 one-bed and 18 two-bedroom flats distributed in three blocks on the site, according to a report to Central Bedfordshire Council’s development management committee.

A map of the newly-approved health and social care hub in Dunstable

The project is expected to be the foundation stone for a further four health hubs in other parts of the district, but each is likely to differ if they go ahead.

CBC’s head of housing management Carol Rooker said: “The council is keen to provide high quality housing for older people, as well as the hub.

“The demand for housing far outstrips supply in the Dunstable area, and these new apartments will offer an attractive option for them.”

Senior partner at the Priory Gardens Surgery Dr Paul Hassan has lived in and worked as a GP in Dunstable since 1983.

“We see the population increasing, with corresponding demand on services, yet there has been no upgrade to community care facilities in this area for more than 25 years,” he said.

“Dunstable practices are working together already, and offer evening and weekend surgeries, while extra services are planned for next year.

“The major constraint in all this is space. Sadly my patients from the town have to travel to Leighton Buzzard, Luton, and Bedford sometimes to use them.”

CBC’s head of partnerships and performance at social care, health and housing Patricia Coker described the key priorities for its health and wellbeing board.

“These are to bring health and care closer to home, to improve outcomes for our residents and to relieve pressure on hospitals,” she explained.

Conservative Dunstable Central councillor Carole Hegley warned of the need of extra housing in the town.

“Dunstable has the highest demand,” she said. “We’re short on land to develop.

“It does bring positive benefits for the health and social care services and to especially encourage people to downsize family homes and create more churn in the system.”

At a drop-in event to publicise the hub and get feedback from residents in February, councillor Hegley suggested the aim would be to avoid replicating hospital services on the site.

But she added some treatments could be delivered there closer to people’s homes, while it would be accessible to Houghton Regis residents “who use some of our Dunstable GP practices”.

Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young asked whether CCTV coverage is proposed to provide an “enhanced feeling of security” in the area.

He described the travel plan as weak and referred to talks having taken place about a bus stop being provided closer to the health hub and accommodation.

“This is an enormously valuable addition to Dunstable,” he said.

Councillors approved the development with ten votes in favour and three against.