New Bedford mental health centre plans to keep Shires House facade

But car parking “may be tight” on re-developed site

By John Guinn, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 5:12 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th March 2022, 5:15 pm

Plans to create a new regional mental health centre in Bedford include retaining the façade to Shires House, but demolishing Florence Ball House for parking.

The Trustees of the House of Industry Estates Management Committee was given an update yesterday (Tuesday) on Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) and the East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) plans to develop a portion of the land off Kimbolton Road, which the NHS leases from the House of Industry Charity.

The report said BLMKCCG and ELFT have been working together to develop proposals to improve mental health inpatient services.

The building was destroyed by fire in 2019

Proposal Option 1A, which was included in the report, proposes that Gilbert Hitchcock House will be converted to a new primary care hub, including a fourth practice.

Florence Ball House would be demolished to provide consolidated parking.

The Shires House façade would be retained in front of a new building accommodating shared inpatient support and re-provided community mental health services from Florence Ball House.

The NHS has sought confirmation that, as landlords, the Trustees are comfortable with this general proposal.

The terms of the lease between The House of Industry Estate Charity and the NHS permit sub-lettings to other parts of NHS to proceed without seeking formal consent.

The report said car parking “may be tight” on the re-developed site, and officers suggested that NHS / ELFT consider “taking a lease from the Rugby Club of the adjacent 95 space car park”.

After the committee chair, councillor Christine McHugh (LibDems, Goldington Ward) checked that members were aware of the future of Shires House, the Committee noted progress on this by the NHS and ELFT without questions or comments.

The plans are at the formative stage and need to be developed further, prior to going out for formal consultation and then for planning.

Shires House was destroyed by fire in 2019