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Homes above hospitals can help solve London housing crisis, says property consultant

Words: Roger Milne
Homes on hospitals

Developing floors of apartments above NHS service buildings could provide 77,000 news homes in London, property consultant WSP has claimed.

The firm based its claim on analysis of 79 NHS buildings in London without A&E facilities, which would cause "specific planning and construction issues". WSP's analysis allows for 100 square metres per apartment, with a combination of six, 12 and 18 storey developments. This, the firm claimed, would represent almost 20 per cent of the 400,000 homes that the Mayor has said London needs in the next decade.
The consultancy, behind the engineering design of The Shard, partly justified its case on a London Health Commission report revealing that £50-60m was being spent annually by the NHS on maintaining NHS buildings that were either not used or not fit for purpose. As part of the residential developments, these service buildings could be revamped at the same time, WSP claimed.
“If private developers were allowed to invest in this land it would help plug the gap for more homes in London, as well as provide state-of-the-art healthcare facilities to replace those that need a facelift or are not currently being used," said WSP director Bill Price. "Obviously there are a few hurdles that would need tackling but this is done elsewhere in the world - for example, the USA - and there’s certainly no technical reason why it couldn’t be done.
“However, the point is not that we should go out and redevelop every hospital into an apartment block, but that we need to start thinking creatively about our housing woes, challenging the status quo and looking at how we use the land available to us.”
WSP has promised a wider study in the Autumn looking at overbuilding on all "appropriate municipal buildings" in London.