‘Not appropriate’ for States to debate hospital design

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The Future Hospital Political Oversight group says it does not accept the view of a Scrutiny panel which on Monday called for the revised plans for the facility to be re-submitted to the States for approval as the proposals have changed so much since Members initially considered them.

Meanwhile, a new application for outline planning permission for the project was due to be formally submitted this week.

The plans were revised after initial proposals to build the facility on the current site were rejected by Environment Minister Steve Luce following concerns raised by an independent UK planning inspector about the scale and mass of the building.

Last month the future hospital team briefed States Members and also held a number of public drop-in sessions outlining the revisions made to the project based on the planning inspector’s recommendations.

The new plans include a lower, wider footprint, reducing the height of the building while maintaining the overall size for the whole project to 50,000 square metres.

It is also proposed that the facility would be a maximum of six floors compared to the previous scheme of nine storeys and that only one extra half-storey would be added to Patriotic Street Car Park instead of two.

In a report published yesterday, the Future Hospital Review Panel found that due to ‘significant changes’ to the previous plans, including the building’s footprint and the project’s sequencing, States Members should be given the opportunity to debate and approve the revised scheme.

However, the Future Hospital Political Oversight group – which provides ministerial oversight of the project and represents the interests of the Health, Infrastructure and Treasury departments – has responded to say it does not share the panel’s view.

In a statement it says: ‘The Future Hospital Political Oversight group believes that it is not appropriate for the exact design of the future hospital to be subject to ongoing States debate.

‘If this was the case then whenever the plans were altered they would need to come back to the States for approval.

‘The sensible thing to do in such circumstances is to take account of the planning inspector’s concerns and then, as you would with any other planned structure, come back with a revised plan which takes account of and remedies those concerns.’

The statement adds that the Assembly has already approved the location, budget and method of funding the project and says ‘it is unlikely that the public wish this process to be prolonged by further debate around the same issues’.

The Future Hospital Political Oversight group says the project remains within the £466 million approved budget and within the proposed timetable of being ready to open in 2024.

Concerto, Scrutiny’s independent advisers, will assess the costing of the revised scheme.

Infrastructure Minister Eddie Noel said: ‘I am confident that the revised plans will meet the concerns of the planning inspector, the Environment Minister and the majority of Islanders.

‘We have taken into account worries about the potential size and visual impact of the building.’

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