Compulsory purchase order
In January 2011, the Trust received a letter from the then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley CBE, which confirmed the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO). This gave the Trust the go-ahead to buy the two-thirds of the Grove Lane site that it does not currently own, in order to build the new hospital. The remaining third is already owned by the Trust.
The letter summarises the outcome and recommendations of a public inquiry into the use of the CPO that took place in June 2010.
In his letter Mr Lansley wrote, “The evidence put forward by the Trust and the findings of the inspector, leads me to conclude that there is a clear health need for a new hospital facility in Grove Lane. This is fully supported by local primary care trusts, the Right Care Right Here Partnership and the local Council.
“I believe the delivery of a new hospital and associated improvements to local healthcare, together with the potential wider regeneration benefits in the Smethwick area, will outweigh the disadvantages arising from the Order.
“There is a compelling case and it is in the public interest. I have decided to confirm the Order without modification.”
A compulsory purchase order is a legal function in the United Kingdom that allows certain organisations – including NHS Trusts – to obtain land or property without the consent of the owner, so long as there is a “compelling case in the public interest”. Owners or occupiers can challenge this, and their objection will be heard by an independent Inspector.
The Secretary of State then appointed an inspector to hold a Public Inquiry to establish if there was such a compelling case. The inspector then made his recommendations to the Secretary of State who confirmed the Order. This means that he has allowed the Trust to use CPO powers to buy the land at Grove Lane.
The area covers around 6.76 hectares, and is bordered by the A457 (Grove Lane), London Street and Grove Street. Most of the area consists of industrial and storage premises together with parking areas and service yards. Much of the land is vacant and parts of it are in a derelict condition. However, some is occupied by businesses engaged in activities including vehicle repairs and storage. One large, modern industrial unit at the centre of the site is vacant.
The local planning authority is Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council. In November 2008 the council granted outline planning permission for an acute hospital and supporting education, research and administration centre together with gym, crèche and car parking within the Order lands. The permission also covers access to the site. Plans also include commitments to improve road access to the site and to enhance the canal environment.