Two residents attend meeting over ex-hospital site plans

The former David Rice Hospital site at Drayton.

The former David Rice Hospital site at Drayton. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Developers bidding to build a care facility and social housing where a mental health hospital once stood held a public meeting - but only two residents attended.

On the agenda was the discussion of the former David Rice Hospital site in Drayton, outside Norwich.

Gavin Elsey, director of Ethos Care Providers, chaired the meeting ahead of a key Drayton Parish Council vote this evening, where members will decide whether to support the plans.

If not, the application will go to committee at Broadland District Council.

The developers already have outline planning permission for 10 social homes and 19 six-bedroom rehabilitative care houses for people with spinal and neurological injuries, but a consultation has begun about the "reserved matters", such as the design and landscaping.

Prior to its demolition in 2003, the site was a rehabilitation hospital. 

The former David Rice Hospital site at Drayton.Picture: ANTONY KELLY

The former David Rice Hospital site at Drayton - Credit: Archant

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Speaking before the meeting, Mr Elsey said: "There's been a lot of scaremongering about these plans.

"People were really concerned about the trees, but we've reached an agreement with Broadland tree officers where any we do cut down will be replaced at a rate of two-to-one.

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"Around 114 may have to be cut down - but these aren't huge, 40ft oak trees that are decades old, most are just little saplings."

He also dismissed allegations a passageway planned in the layout was an attempt to sneak more development through the back door.

Mr Elsey said he hoped the site would eventually look like a "Scandinavian village", with the care facilities resembling log cabins.

He went on: "I would say, though, that those who are continuing to object need to be careful what they wish for. This site will be developed at some point or another, and ours is probably the one most sympathetic to the surrounding environment that's been put forward so far."

Roger Foulger. Photo: Steve Adams

Broadland district councillor Roger Foulger - Credit: Archant

Roger Foulger, district councillor for Drayton South, could not attend the meeting, but called the plans a "jolly good idea".

Parish council chairman Graham Everett said it "ticked all the boxes" from a policy point of view.

At the meeting, resident Tony Hammerton said he was disappointed at the turnout.

He said: "None of the six people I walk my dogs with have turned up tonight.

"As far as I'm concerned, if you don't turn up you lose the right to comment.

"Their attitude is that we can't change anything now, so what's the point in showing up."

Chairman of Drayton Parish Council Graham Everett at traffic calming measures on Drayton Hall Lane.

Chairman of Drayton Parish Council Graham Everett - Credit: Archant

But another resident, Sue Hales, said: "Hardly anyone I spoke to knew about this meeting, which is quite worrying.

"You can hardly call this a public meeting if it isn't public knowledge."

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