Iconic Royal Hospital homes transformation to get go-ahead
Concerns had been raised by heritage groups over the project
Wolverhampton’s historic Royal Hospital is a step closer to being converted into apartments under a £25 million project to breathe new life into the city.
The former Grade II-listed hospital built in 1848 will house 53 flats and form part of a major scheme for 192 new homes at the site in total.
A 1910 nurses’ home will also be knocked down and replaced by a three-storey 24 apartment block as part of the development.
The project looks set to be approved by a committee next week in the wake of advice from planning officers. The grand building came back into view on Wolverhampton’s skyline last summer after the old bus depot was demolished in front of it.
Barry Hodgson, secretary of Wolverhampton Civic and Historical Society, said: “Anything which keeps the original hospital building and facade is a good thing for the city.
“I would like to see the nurses’ block remain, and it is a casualty, but this is an exciting project which will retain the main hospital building.”
Developer Homes England submitted the planning application last year. It received opposition from Historic England which said knocking down the nurses’ home would ‘amount to substantial harm’ to the historical value of the site. The view was echoed by The Victorian Society, which said the block was an ‘attractive’ Edwardian Queen Anne building.
Homes England responded, saying the costs involved with converting the nurses’ home into flats would not make the scheme financially viable. In a report to next Tuesday’s planning committee, planning officers said: “The scheme results in the loss of the former nurses’ home, which is harmful to the historic significance of the Grade ll-listed former Royal Hospital building and the conservation area.
“However the demolition of the former nurses’ home building and the harm that this would cause to historic significance, is justified in order to secure the substantial public benefits offered by the redevelopment and regeneration of this site.”
Roy Stallard was a nurse for 25 years and worked for two spells at the Royal Hospital site.
He said: “I have to accept that logically [the conversion] of homes is the only thing which can be done with the hospital building, but I am very sad about the loss of the nurses’ home, it holds many great memories for the people who worked there.” Wolverhampton Councillor Milkinder Jaspal said: “The hospital is a magnificent, beautiful building which we need to redevelop as soon as possible. I don’t want it to get into a state which no-one will want to touch. This is exactly what we need.”
Under the plans, 25 per cent of the homes would be affordable housing.
A former hospital lodge building on the site, in Cleveland Road, will be converted into a cafe and shops and 115 homes will be built at the rear of the hospital.
The hospital closed in 1997 with services transferred to New Cross Hospital. The site was acquired by Tesco in 2001, but plans for a new supermarket were dropped three years ago before it was purchased for housing.
The bus depot was demolished two years ago and is also earmarked for housing.