Harpenden's Red House hospital site set to become health and wellbeing centre

PUBLISHED: 17:21 03 March 2016 | UPDATED: 17:21 03 March 2016

County Councillor Teresa Heritage and The Harpenden Society member Dr Eric Midwinter Stand in front of water damage to one of the hallways in The Red House, Harpenden Memorial Hospital

County Councillor Teresa Heritage and The Harpenden Society member Dr Eric Midwinter Stand in front of water damage to one of the hallways in The Red House, Harpenden Memorial Hospital

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The green light has been given to take an ambitious redevelopment of Harpenden's Red House site to the next level, with a scheme to be lodged with St Albans council.

Water damage to one of the rooms in The Red House, Harpenden Memorial Hospital, shown in a photo taken several years agoWater damage to one of the rooms in The Red House, Harpenden Memorial Hospital, shown in a photo taken several years ago

But, it is understood that the historic former private home of Sir Halley Stewart, vice-chairman of the London Brick Company, on Carlton Road, is unlikely to be part of those proposals.

David Law, chief executive of Herts Community NHS Trust, gave a packed meeting of over 100 people last Thursday (25) more details of plans to turn Red House into a health and wellbeing centre.

Podiatry, diabetes, heart failure and bladder and bowel care services will be on offer, along with leg ulcer care, speech and language therapy, and a Parkinson’s specialist nurse service.

Current clinics for blood, ophthalmology and plastic surgery would continue.

Harpenden Memorial Hospital.Harpenden Memorial Hospital.

Four years ago the Herts Advertiser carried a story on the cracked walls and peeling ceilings of the town’s Red House Memorial Hospital.

Back then, David said that ideally a new, modern clinic should be provided for residents but, he warned: “The Red House is in pretty bad shape structurally and it would be uneconomic to patch it up.”

This view was confirmed at last week’s meeting, organised by The Harpenden Society, when David emphasised that new buildings were just part of the outline plans for the proposed facility in Carlton Road, adding that because of its age and functional unsuitability, the historic Red House building itself could not be part of the proposed development.

He said the intention was to sell the building, along with ‘surplus land’ on the site, to generate much of the funding needed to set up the new centre.

David Law, with Cllr Teresa Heritage, and Eric Midwinter of The Harpenden Society were at the public meeting on Harpenden's 'Red House'David Law, with Cllr Teresa Heritage, and Eric Midwinter of The Harpenden Society were at the public meeting on Harpenden's 'Red House'

However, David stressed that none of the surplus land would be sold for housing although a care home for the elderly was a possibility.

While health bosses have given the go-ahead for the project to go forward to the next stage, with a planning application to be lodged with the district council, David warned there was likely to be a lengthy administrative process before building could begin.

A target date of April 2019 has been set for the opening of the new facility.

David said that a main aim of the centre was to help prevent a range of illnesses, while providing direct health services to help local residents maintain a healthy lifestyle and help reduce pressure on stretched hospitals.

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