07:22 Friday 13th May 2011
Peterborough Breakfast Show
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
PAUL STAINTON: You came on to talk about the old PDH site on Thorpe Road.
STEWART JACKSON: Yes I’ve got worries, because although the Council has looked at the site, and produced a supplementary planning document, I am very concerned that there might be a move to go for a monopoly developer on the site, instead of what could be achieved. It’s a very prestigious site. You’ll remember, the last big prestigious site was actually turned over to a prison, about six, seven years ago. It could be the key to the aspirational regeneration of Peterborough. And it’s crucially important, I think, that we, the Hospital, gets the best independent advice. They’ve had advice from King Sturge, I believe, the Trust. I’d like to know what they’ve actually provided, and what they’ve done for their fee, for the Trust.
PAUL STAINTON: Who are these people?
STEWART JACKSON: Well that’s another thing. There’s an accountability issue, because this sort of semi-autonomous arm of the Council which is called Peterborough Development Partnership, has introduced a developer to the Trust.
PAUL STAINTON: Who are they? Who are they, the Peterborough Development Partnership?
STEWART JACKSON: Well this is a good question. Because if you Google them, they’re not really fully accountable. They’re people that are brokering deals on behalf of the taxpayer and City Council, but they’re not people that are particularly accountable directly to local councillors. And that’s one of the issues that I am investigating. But apart from that, of course, the key issue is that we need to get the best deal for the taxpayer, both in terms of quality, and the fee that comes from selling this 25 acre site. And my view is, as I said when I launched my housing document in February, that we need a mix of housing, but we need to focus on well-established, quality family homes. And at the moment I’m not convinced that the Hospital Trust are fully conversant with their responsibilities for this particular site.
PAUL STAINTON: What would you like on the site? Just remond everybody.
STEWART JACKSON: Well I would like a development which is in keeping with what this site is, which is potentially one of the best development sites in the UK. So good quality executive homes, also shared-equity, a small number of social housing units, probably affordable homes, shared-equity. But certainly not lots of flats that people don’t want to buy. Certainly not very poor quality retail. We really need to step back and look at the potential for this site. And the Trust should certainly not be going for a quick sale to a monopoly provider, not least because they might very well be in breach of Section 46 of the National Health Service Act, which regards it as a protected asset, which means it has to go on the open market.
PAUL STAINTON: Well we’ll put that to the Hospital Trust’s Director of Communications, who’s on the show in just a while. Stewart, thank you for that. Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough, with very real concerns about the old PDH site, and whether we’re getting best value for money from it, and who these people are that are recommending various people to come and build on that site in Peterborough, the Peterborough Development Partnership, introducing various companies to Peterborough. We’ll have a look into that.
PAUL STAINTON: Some big stories on the show today, including this. Peterborough’s MP Stewart Jackson, very concerned about the future of the old PDH site on Thorpe Road. Worried that the site could be sold for a cut price. Here’s what Mr Jackson had to say this morning. (TAPE)
STEWART JACKSON: I am very concerned that there might be a move to go for a monopoly developer on the site, instead of what could be achieved. It’s a very prestigious site. You’ll remember, the last big prestigious site was actually turned over to a prison … It could be the key to the aspirationsal regeneration of Peterborough. (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: I also asked him about the possible sale of the site, and the fact that it could be a closed bid. And this is what he had to say. (TAPE)
STEWART JACKSON: .. it’s crucially important, I think, that we, the Hospital, gets the best independent advice. They’ve had advice from King Sturge, I believe, the Trust. I’d like to know what they’ve actually provided, and what they’ve done for their fee, (LIVE)
PAUL STAINTON: Well Andrew Mackintosh is the Trust’s Director of Communications. Good morning Andrew.
ANDREW MACKINTOSH: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: First of all, the sale of this site, is it going to be a fair and open bidding process, or is it going to be a closed bidding process?
ANDREW MACKINTOSH: Well it’s got to be open. I mean, this is slightly premature really, as well, in where we are with things. But the one thing I can reassure everybody with, and I think we all know the financial position of the NHS as a whole, let alone Peterborough Hospital at the moment, and the NHS in Peterborough, it’s an extremely worrying financial time for everybody, the one thing that the Trust ward will not be doing is giving this site away at a cut price. Absolutely not. The aim ..
PAUL STAINTON: Is it true that a company has been recommended by a middle-man, who will be charging a fee?
ANDREW MACKINTOSH: Yeah, I mean how these things work with all of these large developments, and this is a major development … We all know this is as you know a 25 acre site in the middle of the city. It is a major development. But the way these usually work is that a land agent gets involved. And a land agent has got involved here. They will then liaise with the planners, just to make sure that whatever proposal is going to come forward is suitable, so that it’s not going to be thrown out by planners immediately. And it’ll then be considered on the cost and .. obviously what we’re looking for here as well is .. it isn’t just apartment blocks or anything. The aim here of the city is to get a good mix. And one of those mixes is executive homes right down to more affordable homes, with a lighter touch on retail. I mean there’s a whole range of things. This could have gone over to a warehouse. I think Stewart mentioned the last major site went to a prison. A whole range of things it could go to, but we’re going to try and get what’s right for the city. But of course, the aim of the Trust is to get as much money as possible for the Trust.
PAUL STAINTON: Have we already had to pay out some money though to King Sturge?
ANDREW MACKINTOSH: Sorry?
PAUL STAINTON: Have we already had to pay out some money to this middle ..
ANDREW MACKINTOSH: Yeah. No, King Sturge have done some work which is normal. That’s how these things work. Yes.King Sturge have had some involvement over the past, getting the proposals ready with the planners.
PAUL STAINTON: In these diffiult times, can’t we cut out these middle-men? Can’t we do it ourselves?
ANDREW MACKINTOSH: I wish we could. But no, it is a fast-mover. The planning process, and I think your whole programme has been dedicated to the complexity of planning, it is a very complex process. And for the Hospital, as a Trust, we are experts in giving the best medical attention to people. We are not experts in planning necessarily. So you need to bring the experts in, and you have to pay a fee.
PAUL STAINTON: And we’ve got to get this right, haven’t we? Because this is the main artery into the city. Everybody that comes in down that road will see what you put on that site. There’s no danger here that the site is going to be sold cheaply to a developer, to build some cheap houses?
ANDREW MACKINTOSH: No. No danger whatsoever that it’s going to go cheaply. I mean it cannot. There is scrutiny. And I think even Stewart referred to the scrutiny that it will go through. The Trust Board will have to mke a decision. They know the scrutiny they’ll be under. And they’ll make the right decision for the Hospital. It’s getting the right deal for the Hospital. On the other side of things of course, the planners are making sure that we will get he right deal for the city, so that he two things go hand in hand really.
PAUL STAINTON: Thank you for that Andrew. Andrew Mackintosh, the Trust’s Director of Communications, giving assurances there that whatever’s built on the site of the old PDH building will be value for money. We’ll get the right money for it, and it will be the right thing for people to see as they come in to Peterborough. History will judge that comment.