Norton Lea, Boston
Globe were appointed to advise and lead a multi-disciplinary team of consultants in the evaluation of potential redevelopment opportunities for the redundant Norton Lea hospital site in Boston, which had been identified as surplus to the NHS’s requirements. The brief required consideration and assessment of different development scenarios in terms of both their commercial credentials and consistency with planning policy to arrive at a preferred solution which would maximise the value of the site and inform the client’s strategy for its eventual disposal.
Assessment of a range of uses that could potentially be accommodated on this brownfield site – such as retail, employment and residential uses – was further informed by a detailed appraisal of the constraints and opportunities afforded to the site. This process involved a detailed review of the many ‘baseline’ influences, including transport, archaeology, flood risk and ecological considerations to determine the main development parameters and influences in the context of a detailed appraisal of current and emerging planning policy. This assessment concluded that there were no ‘showstoppers’ to development, but that some potential mitigation measures were likely to be problematic for commercial reasons. Crucially however, for many of the uses considered, we were able to demonstrate that the site would satisfy the requirements of the flood risk ‘sequential test’ and that there were no reasonably available alternative sites which were sequentially preferable.
An important element of the appraisal work was to undertake a preliminary community engagement exercise. This was not an over elaborate ‘all singing and dancing’ exercise, but simply sought to elicit from those most affected, their thoughts on the suitability of the site for development and therefore give them a genuine opportunity to influence at an early stage the type or form of possible future development. Such input also informed due diligence measures by ensuring an appreciation of the political risks associated with the options being considered.
The second stage of our work was to consider and prepare an appropriate development scheme for eventual submission to the local planning authority. Constructive dialogue with the local planning authority identified a desire to secure a form of development which would enhance local distinctiveness. Accordingly, we worked closely with the scheme architect to develop a set of design principles, which focused on creating a sense of place by utilizing the mature landscape features within (and around) the site including a magnificent Cork Tree found in the centre of the site.
Since operational closure of the site, it had unfortunately been blighted by vandalism, theft and anti-social behavior. However, our involvement has led to the identification of a development scheme that would satisfy the ‘Best value’ requirements of the client, be commercially attractive and which responds positively to it’s context and acknowledges the identified wishes of the local community.