A step nearer to saving Harborough war memorial

The Cottage Hospital war memorial portico
The Cottage Hospital war memorial portico

Harborough District Council has stepped up its efforts to influence the outcome of the town’s war memorial saga.

The council has started discussions with NHS Property Services about the long-term disposal of the land, which could involve the Grade II-listed war memorial staying on site and being incorporated into an affordable housing scheme.

The project could even involve housing for people with an armed forces connection.

Cllr Phil King, deputy leader and finance portfolio holder, said: “Our view is that this site would be ideal to seek an affordable housing scheme on. This would satisfy the policy objective of the Government, namely that surplus department land is provided for housing schemes.”

The First World War memorial is built into the front portico of the Cottage Hospital, in Coventry Road.

But the NHS, which owns the site, has planned a new hospital at St Luke’s in Leicester Road. The Coventry Road site is likely to be declared “surplus to requirements” and sold off.

Conservative Cllr King said the site’s future could involve the district council either buying the site directly, or with a housing association partner and the NHS Property company.

The team would then seek to design and build a new housing development incorporating the listed war memorial on the site.

Cllr King said that discussions were at an early stage, but stressed “the council is certainly not a helpless bystander here”.

Liberal Democrat local party leader Cllr Phil Knowles said: “This is all about what’s best for the community. All ideas about the future of the memorial are very welcome.”

And the Rev John Morley, chairman of the town’s branch of the Royal British Legion, agreed: “I welcome this initiative.”

Meanwhile, Kibworth businessman John Brotherton has offered money to help re-site the memorial if that becomes necessary.

Mr Brotherton, who has five relatives listed on the memorial’s panels, said he would be willing to contribute “a substantial sum” to safeguard its future.