THE government’s new approach to building a hospital at Overdale has been welcomed by the Constable of St Helier, who said it would ‘safeguard’ Westmount Road and save the bowling club.
Simon Crowcroft was one of the foremost critics of the previous government’s single-site scheme, before it was halted by the current administration after taking office last July and eventually shelved.
The ‘Our Hospital’ project would have involved a large hospital at Overdale and significant changes to the road access to the site.
An acute hospital at Overdale has instead been put forward by the current government as part of a multi-site scheme to upgrade the Island’s healthcare facilities, with a feasibility study currently being finalised before being presented to States Members in July.
Mr Crowcroft said: ‘We fought pretty hard against the previous government’s scheme in order to safeguard the heritage of Westmount Road, to save the bowling club and stop the environmental damage to the area.
‘The new scheme removes those elements, which is to be welcomed, but it would be premature to celebrate at this stage while there are still compulsory purchase orders in place relating to the previous scheme.’
Mr Crowcroft said that the latest project, which would include Overdale, an outpatients facility on the site at Gloucester Street and Kensington Place and a new health village adjacent to Clinique Pinel in St Saviour, was a better option.
‘Having a presence in the town centre is a good thing, as it is accessible, and the changes to what’s proposed at Overdale incorporate many of the points made by the parish four years ago,’ he said.
The government yesterday confirmed that a summary of the feasibility study would be made public and that, at present, the intention was for the Hospital scheme to be debated as part of the Government Plan later this year.
Mr Crowcroft added: ‘We were promised that there’d be the opportunity for the States to make a decision on this before the summer recess – it’s only right that should happen, and Members should have the chance to rescind the decision about the previous scheme.’
A leading pressure group has also issued a cautious welcome to the newest version of the hospital project.
Peter Funk, from the Friends of Our New Hospital group, said: ‘I am quietly encouraged by this, but there is still a hell of a lot more information to be provided.
‘Spreading the facilities across several sites is a good idea, probably the only idea at this stage, and is much more manageable, but there’s no clarity about how much it will cost.’
Mr Funk described plans for the Island’s new hospital, first put forward in 2012, as ‘a classic case of how not to manage a project’.