Proposals For New Health Hub & Residential Blocks in Dunstable

Planning News
Land at Grove Park, Court Drive, Dunstable, LU5 4GP

Erection of a mixed-use development comprising a 4 storey integrated Health and Social Care Hub (6841 sqm) and 98 residential apartments (80, one bedroom flats and 18, two bedroom flats) for older people distributed in three blocks, 4 storeys in height with access, parking, landscaping and associated infrastructure.

All documents available here.

Homes for Older People and an Integrated Health and Social Care Hub 

Report by Alan Winter.


The site is located at the end of Court Drive, Dunstable.  The site is located to the northeast of the High Street in the centre of Dunstable, Bedfordshire.  The site has an area of 3.65ha.  There are pedestrian links to the High Street, library (less than 5 minutes walk), Asda store (3 minutes walk) and local and intercity bus stops (2-5 minutes walk). The site is bounded on the northern side by the Luton - Dunstable busway.  Beyond this, accessed via Dog Kennel Walk and a link bridge, is Dog Kennel Down (a County Wildlife Site) and the edge of the Woodside industrial estate.  The site is bounded to the west by Dog Kennel Walk - a footpath linking Dog Kennel Down and the High Street.  Beyond this is predominantly a residential area of detached two-storey dwellings. Immediately to the south-east of the site is a 3-4 storey residential development called the Parklands.

Overview of what the plan calls for and where:

Access Plan

A new street will lead into the site providing access to the residential buildings. Court Drive provides vehicle access to the adjacent Parklands residential development and to the parking surrounding Go Bowling. This parking also serves the Dunstable Centre and the Grove Theatre.  The vehicular access to the site also permits access to service a pumping station at the south-western corner of the site.  The area surrounding the pumping station is currently used as ad hoc parking. 

Vehicle access into the proposed development is via a new roundabout on Court Drive. This new junction would retain vehicle access into the Parklands.

Design Proposals

The whole development includes several buildings. Three residential buildings are orientated on a north-south axis to maximise daylighting. A large expanse of enhanced public open space is retained on the western slopes of the site. Each residential block is to be served by a communal staircase and single 13-person stretcher lift. The accommodation to be provided would be: 
1 bed 2 person flats, 
1 bed 2 person wheelchair-accessible flats, and 
2 bed 3 person flats. 
All apartments are accessed from the main central corridor.

The Health and Care Hub is a four-storey H-shaped building.  The four floors would be served by a lift and staircase extending to roof level in the central zone to provide access. All the design proposals can be seen in more detail here

The facilities to be provided at the hub would be:

Ground Floor 
• A meet and greet Reception area  - a focal point for the ‘hub heart’
• main waiting areas and cafe opening out into internal courtyards.
• Central patient stair centrally located directly accessed from the main reception area
• Pharmacy Clinical Functions:
• Childrens Services
• Mental Health - Pathway 2 Recovery
• Shared Clinical spaces
• Phlebotomy

First Floor 
• GP services occupying entire floor plate
• Central connective module containing the main stairs and lifts with central reception area and waiting areas
• each clinical wing hosts further patient waiting-areas and a series of Consulting / Treatment rooms

Second Floor 
•  Central connective module containing the main stairs and lifts with and shared office spaces
• Northside of the building containing Mental Health department
• Southside accommodates staff support areas including GP’s suite Areas areas, ELFT Admin.
• Ancillary spaces, plant room and server rooms located adjacent to the central connective module

Mental Health department including:
• Mental Health - Shared Space,
• Mental Health - Older People CMHT/MAS.
• Mental Health - DISS• Mental Health - Base for CMHT
• Mental Health - Early Intervention
• LD
• Adult Social Care

Third Floor 
• Central connective module containing the main stairs and lifts with central reception area and waiting areas
• Ancillary spaces, plant room and server rooms located adjacent to the central connective module
• Each wing hosts a series of clinical rooms

Clinical Functions:
• Children’s Locality Team
• Early interventions
• Older People CMHT/MAS
• Primary Care
• Shared Mental Health
• Mental Health - IAPT
• Shared Clinical Spaces
• Podiatry


At the time of this report, 49 objections had been sent into Central Bedfordshire Council. A number of internal and external consultees have already commented and their comments are publicly accessible. These are summarised below.

Dunstable Town Council's Planning Committee did not object to the application proposed but had many concerns regarding the access and egress of the site and the impact it would have on traffic congestion in the, already busy, town centre. They also felt that more residents parking and more electric car charging points should be provided. The Committee also wanted it noted that they have concerns about Central Bedfordshire Councils plans for two further housing developments in this area of the town centre.

Principal Highways Officer objects and provides a detailed examination of the proposals.

Strategic Housing are requesting additional information which shows how the affordable housing schedule is broken down by tenure for the S106 affordable units. And they want to see a site layout plan denoting the affordable plots by tenure for the S106 affordable units.

The Ecologist makes a number of critical comments including, "Further surveys need to be undertaken with regards to ecology.  The metric calculation for net gain indicates a net loss of 25%.  The aim for any development is to provide a net gain of 10%.  How this loss will be mitigated for and a gain of 10% must be identified."

The Landscape Officer makes a number of critical points including, "the layout appears to only accommodate those travelling to the Health Hub by car.  Access and desire lines from bus stops and public footpaths are convoluted and not legible" and "The minimal size of many private gardens is shocking @ 2.7m deep" and "There appears no outdoor space for staff to relax away from the public ".

The Wildlife Trust for Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire are objecting to this application. As it stands the application would result in the loss of an area of County Wildlife Site and planning decisions should protect sites of biodiversity or geological value.

How to Comment Publicly

If you would like to make a public comment on this important development for Dunstable, you can follow this link to complete a form (you do not need a reference number, so on the landing page "click here")


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