World leading veterans' health centre plans for Shropshire hospital are approved

Plans for a world-leading veterans’ health centre at the Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital have been given the go-ahead.

How the Headley Court Veterans’ Centre could look
How the Headley Court Veterans’ Centre could look

The facility – which will be the first of its kind in the country – will be constructed near the main entrance of the hospital in Gobowen as an extension to the existing outpatient department.

The project has been made possible thanks to a £6 million grant from Headley Court Charity last year, and a planning application lodged with Shropshire Council just two months ago has now been approved.

Hospital bosses say the centre will not only allow them to consolidate the specialist care already provided to veterans and military personnel in a dedicated building, but will be complemented by state-of-the-art training facilities, a cafe and ‘veterans hub’ offering mental health and other support services.

A report by planning officer Philip Mullineux says: “The principle of this form development and its context is considered acceptable, in consideration of the development it is associated to, that of a world renowned hospital that also provides significant economic and social benefits to the area in which it is located within.

How the Headley Court Veterans' Centre could look

“Detail in support of the application indicates that the three storey Veterans Centre will be a world-class facility built to provide care for patients with a range of orthopaedic conditions such as joint problems and spinal injuries.

“The trust will also work with Shropshire Council and military charities within the building to provide support for mental health and PTSD, homelessness, debt, welfare and benefits.”

The application was supported by Selattyn and Gobowen Parish Council but met with objections from Oswestry and District Civic Society and five members of the public, who cited concerns over environmental impact and sustainability.

Mr Mullineux’s report says: “The applicants have submitted in support of the application an energy and sustainability statement and its conclusions are considered acceptable.”

There were no objections from the council’s ecology, trees, highways or drainage teams.

Permission

Granting permission, Mr Mullineux concludes: “Officers consider there will clearly be economic and social benefits arising from the development, mainly attributable to the provision of improved health facilities.

“This is a significant material consideration on which basis to determine the application.”

The new facility will be known as the Headley Court Veterans’ Centre.

Headley Court in Surrey was the leading medical rehabilitation base for members of the Armed Forces before the transfer of those services to a new facility in 2018.

Following the move, charity trustees said they wanted to “honour the legacy of Headley Court” by funding other projects in keeping with their ethos.

The £6 million grant from the charity enabled the hospital to step up earlier plans for a more modest veterans’ outpatient facility, for which a £1.5 million funding drive was launched in 2018.

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