CamdenNewJournal

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Luxury home developers offered chance to buy Royal Free hospital building at Whitestone Pond

Hampstead hospital urged to use property for to provide affordable homes for nurses

07 May, 2018 — By Tom Foot

Queen Mary House

THE Royal Free has been accused of missing an opportunity to provide homes for its nurses after putting a former hospital block in Hampstead up for sale.

Luxury homes developers now have the chance to seize Queen Mary House, close to Whitestone Pond near East Heath Road. It is being marketed as an “excellent opportunity” to set a “new standard in luxury living” in one of the “wealthiest suburbs” in the capital.

The building was one of the main rehabilitation hospitals for Camden patients, with more than 100 beds, but was closed in a round of cuts in 2011. A block on the site is currently home to housing association tenants.

Conservative ward councillor Stephen Stark said: “Camden Council should make it clear that development will not be permitted on this site unless it preserves key worker accommodation on a like-for-like basis in Hampstead. “Hampstead has lost a huge number of affordable properties in recent years, undermining our social mix and making it harder for Royal Free staff to live locally.”

While prospective buyers can redevelop the land, developers may meet affordable housing requirements by building on land behind the hospital’s main site in Hampstead, The sale comes with the cash-strapped hospital already facing criticism for spending hundreds of thousands on consultants who have advised how it can set up its own property company to maximise its assets. Research by trade union Unison found an estimated £400,000 of NHS funds had been used.

Keep Our NHS Public’s John Lipetz said: “We should expect the NHS leadership, both at the Royal Free and for North Central London, to discuss this issue with staff and the public.”

A Royal Free spokes­man said the hospital could not comment during the local elections period, but a report to the board confirmed that a hospital committee had received the outline business case on the disposal of Queen Mary House. “It supported the outline business case and the decision to test the market and recommended approval by the trust board,” the report added.

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