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New location near Newbury for Royal Berkshire Hospital?

We heard on the Simon Trevers programme on Friday morning (20th May 2022) how plans are being considered for the redevelopment or relocation of the Royal Berkshire Hospital, currently located on London Road in Reading.

On Monday 23rd May, West Berkshire’s health scrutiny committee met and Newbury Showground was put forward as a possible location for the rebuild of the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

“It’s future seems uncertain, so it would be a good place to put it,” said Jeff Beck (Con, Newbury Clay Hill), who also put forward the White Waltham Airfield as another suggestion. He went on to say “We just need to get cracking and make a decision.”

“An obvious place to put it would be just off junction 11,” added Graham Bridgeman (Con, Burghfield and Mortimer). He added that “It’s not far from a train line and the new Green Park Station, but unless the Treasury comes up with the cash, it’s just pipe dreams.”

The committee heard Brexit, inflation and an additional raft of other hospitals in the pipeline for redevelopment could scupper moves to totally rebuild the hospital – with ‘eyewatering’ costs possible

However it also heard that redeveloping the existing site whilst still in use would also be incredibly expensive, as well as being highly disruptive.

The Treasury is expected to announce how much cash the Royal Berkshire Hospital will get in October.

Moves to get West Berkshire Council to adopt a stance on whether the existing site should be redeveloped, or the hospital relocated to a completely new site also hit the buffers…

Alan Macro’s (Lib Dem, Theale) council motion to adopt a new build on a new site as a preferred option went one step forward, with councillors rejecting council officer’s recommendations to reject it. It does mean it also goes one step back, as the whole subject now needs to go back to full council where it started in March of this year.

“The residents of West Berkshire should feel their council is routing for them,” said Andy Moore (Lib Dem, Newbury Central). “This council should make a stand like Reading and Wokingham councils have done already. This is a once in a century decision.”

Other local councils want different approaches – Reading Borough Council wants the existing site redeveloped, and Wokingham is keep to see it moved into its district, between junction 10 and 11 of the M4.

The committee agreed that the current RBH site is difficult for West Berkshire residents to get to by public transport, and that parking when there is both difficult and expensive.

The RBH is one of 40 new hospital building projects earmarked for Department of Health investment over the next ten years.

Possible locations for a new hospital include Green Park, a site near the Select Car Leasing (formerly Madejski) Stadium or the Thames Valley Science Park in Shinfield.

Alternative options include completely rebuilding the hospital at its current site, or a partial redevelopment to create a new emergency care block, an elective centre for planned hospital care, a new women’s and children’s facility, and a medical school.

You can have your say in the public consultation – online at https://buildingberkshiretogether.co.uk/