THE county’s NHS trust will be taking the council to court over a refusal to ask developers for millions of pounds for hospitals in exchange for building 2,200 new homes.

Worcester City Council, Wychavon District Council and Malvern Hills District Council all agreed in 2021 to turn down a plea by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust for £1.84million from developer Welbeck Land – which is building more than 2,200 homes to the south of the city between St Peter’s and Kempsey.

A judge will now decide whether the councils had acted lawfully when rejecting the request.

The hearing, which is due to start next month, will be held in London.

Planning applications – particularly large-scale plans – are usually approved in principle before planners and developers work out funding agreements – known as section 106 money – to pay for infrastructure such as bus routes, schools, community centres and parks.

NHS trusts are also entitled to make requests for funding from developers to meet the expected rise in population and often the money goes towards new GP surgeries or health centres.

All three south Worcestershire councils said in 2021 they did not want to ask for more money if it meant less affordable housing was built and they now say that position has not changed two years later.

The hospital said the money would be used to ensure new and future patients were cared for properly and to prevent the already-packed hospital from becoming even more oversubscribed.

A letter from 2021 outlining from then interim director of planning at Worcester City Council Simeon Manley to Malvern Hills head of planning Duncan Rudge, who coincidently is now the city council’s head of planning, said the hospital’s trusts requests “in whole or part” could only be negotiated by cutting down on the number of affordable homes.

The council said the NHS trust’s numbers had been “subject to detailed investigation” over whether they were viable and planners were “not persuaded” they were correct.

It is one of several requests made by the county’s hospital trust to the three south Worcestershire district councils in recent years for money from developers – all of which have been rejected.

The hospital trust made a request for £3.4million in 2019 – which came as a surprise to council officers – which was rejected by all three planning committees over fears it would damage years of challenging contract discussions between the councils and the developers as well as jeopardise agreed funding in other areas.

Council planners, as they said in 2019 and 2021, maintain the hospital trust had left the request for funding contributions too late and allowing the extra money to be paid to the hospital would mean existing agreements would have to be renegotiated.

A number of hospital trusts have taken councils to court over similar disagreements with the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust recently losing its case on all grounds against Harborough District Council which approved 2,750 homes without demanding developers cough up nearly a million pounds for the NHS in return.