Controversy over Frank James Hospital planning application

By Carole Dennett Apr 30, 2020

Local Democracy Reporter Louise Hill

The future of Frank James Hospital remains even more confused after developers, Charlemaine Estates, denied they had put in a planning application lodged in its name for two further homes on the site.

The documents accompanying the application stated the scheme to renovate the iconic East Cowes building would not go ahead without the revenue from the new homes. The heritage statement attached to the plans said: “These proposed additional dwellings are only being sought as a way of generating sufficient funds to complete the refurbishment and conversion works at the main Frank James hospital building. The current development has stalled due to lack of funds and without an additional injection of money, the development will not recommence.”  While the design and access statement says: “The development has run out of money and cannot progress.”

However, a spokesman for Charlemaine Estates said this week that the developer had not made the application and he believed the receiver appointed after the company had loan repayment problems, Hillco Global, had made the application in its name and without its knowledge.

Peter Madden, a former director and now agent for Charlemaine, said the company did have the finances in place to go ahead with the development without the new houses proposed. He said in a statement released today (Wednesday): “I only became aware that a planning application had been submitted by an agent acting on behalf of the receiver to develop part of the property owned by the company and a third party for the construction of four new houses very recently and only learned last Monday that in support of the application, the heritage statement and design and access statement contained representations that were untrue.” He added that the suggestion the company had no money to progress the scheme was also untrue.

Currently, two houses have been permitted by the Isle of Wight Council but the new application is for a further two, two-bedroom homes. According to previous planning applications, a total of 19 houses and flats have permission to be built in the hospital and around the site.

Isle of Wight Council ward member for East Cowes, Karl Love, however, is opposing the further development and has been asking others to do the same. He said: “The Frank James building requires a developer with deep pockets and putting its restoration at the very centre of the project. There is a lot remaining to be done on this building.”

Since attention was drawn to the application last week, 18 comments have been made to the Isle of Wight Council’s planning department, opposing the extra building works.

One commenter, who lives on the same road as the Grade II listed building, Adelaide Grove, said there is already parking difficulties. “The access to the parking to these new properties would not only reduce parking places, but also with extra houses not having at least two spaces each, there would be even more cars trying to park actually on [the road],” they said.

Another, also from East Cowes, said the whole approach to the restoration of the hospital has been flawed with errors and bad mistakes, strongly objecting to the proposals and urged the planning department to reject the application.

There have also been posters appearing opposing the new proposals.