COUNCILLORS on both sides of Harborough’s political divide have welcomed the news of the granting of planning permission for Harborough’s new £4m hospital.
A planning application for the facility which will combine Harborough’s Cottage and St Luke’s hospitals in the one site at Leicester Road was approved by Harborough District Council last night.
Conservative councillor Phil King is the Harborough Council representative on the hospital project board and spoke at last night’s meeting to commend the proposal and thank NHS staff and their contractors for their work on the project.
He also sits on the planning committee but took a seat in the public gallery for the vote last night.
He said: “These plans for the new hospital unit at St Luke’s Hospital, once completed, will provide a long overdue major upgrade to NHS treatment and outpatient facilities for patients within the Market Harborough district.
“I am delighted that members of the planning committee endorsed the planning officers recommendation for approval.
“It will bring welcome news to patients, healthcare professionals and the local economy with this further capital investment in our local health service infrastructure.”
Leader of the Lib Dem group on the district council, cllr Phil Knowles, also spoke in favour of the proposal at the meeting, telling the planning committee: “So many times the community have seen their hopes dashed and the promised new hospital wrenched from their grasp but tonight the council can play a major part in securing the hospital that can do so much to deliver the services for a growing community.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Knowles added: “I am delighted and very grateful to all who have supported the campaign over such a long time. The decision to grant planning approval is a major step forward for a twenty first century facility for Harborough.
“There must be a strong probability that contractors will be on site soon, residents will see the work begin and at long last see the scheme finally delivered.
“It is positive news but only when the doors are open and the facility fully operational can we say the campaign is over.”
Sir Edward Garnier, MP for Harborough, added: “Let’s hope that this marks a new and productive chapter for St Luke’s. For far too long we have seen one step forward and then two steps back.
“I too want to thank the NHS staff for their forbearance and professionalism during what can only have been the most frustrating time over the last couple of decades.
“ The NHS spent more on architectural consultants and non-medical expenditure repairing what had gone wrong than it did on patient care but at last things seem to be taking a better turn. Fingers crossed, things are now set fair for the future.”