The council is considering diverting future contributions tied to planning applications from housing developers in the district to fund its own programme of installing much-needed local health facilities where necessary.
The council’s executive board last week studied in-depth research by a task and finish group into whether local developer contributions are being fully utilised by the health service to keep up with demand. The outcome could significantly accelerate improvements for patients.
Coun Richard Wright, Leader of NKDC, told The Standard: “What we want to achieve is a greater mutual understanding of all partners in the planning process and to ensure we work together in the most timely and effective manner, to maximise the benefits to residents.”
The council’s executive resolved to investigate potential direct involvement in healthcare infrastructure provision, such as taking charge of building new health centres using ‘planning gain’ money.
A Planning Gain for Health Provision Task and Finish Group had considered the significant predicted growth in North Kesteven over the coming years and likely developer contributions towards health services. Concern had been expressed by councillors that existing policies linked to planning gain for health services may not be working. In particular members were concerned at the number of cases heard by planning committees where no contribution was sought or ‘no comment’ was received from the health service. Members were also concerned at reports that, due to resource limitations, the NHS was routinely failing to seek contributions from smaller developments.
In fact, the TFG concluded large-scale opportunities for contributions were not being missed. However there was room for improvement of the system to increase uptake.
They saw it as crucial to work closer with Clinical Commissioning Groups and NHS leaders and a series of workshops involving the council and these organisations will now work together on better prioritising opportunities and strategic issues.