Independent planning inspector Philip Staddon is due to oversee a public inquiry in September into the latest proposals for the £466 million project after the original plans were rejected.
And earlier this month, the States agreed that the terms of reference should be expanded to allow Mr Staddon to look at alternative sites should he deem it necessary. Mr Staddon has said he believes it will be necessary to consider alternative areas.
A plan to redevelop the current site has been put forward by the States.
However, the current set of proposals have prompted much debate about the best location for the new hospital, with a number of concerns being raised both within government and by members of the public about the suitability of redeveloping the current building.
In a letter to Environment Minister John Young – who will ultimately make the final decision on whether to approve the planning application for the Future Hospital Project – Mr Staddon said: ‘I do think that it is safe to speculate that any proposal for a new hospital (of the scale required) on any site in Jersey will result in some adverse environmental effects. This is simply a direct product of the scale and nature of such a large development in a constrained and sensitive Island setting.
‘As a consequence, there is merit in giving some consideration to the issue of alternative sites and the extended terms of reference are helpful in this respect.’
He added that he had no intention of holding an ‘inquiry within an inquiry’ and that alternative sites would only be considered should the current planning application be deemed to be ‘in conflict with the Island Plan’, which could result in ‘significant adverse environmental effects’.
Mr Staddon added: ‘Put simply, the decision-maker will wish to know whether there is another site that could clearly avoid those adverse effects, or at least substantially reduce them.’
In the original planning inquiry, Mr Staddon hinted that alternative sites should be considered and questioned whether the proposals were the ‘one and only vehicle’ to deliver the new hospital. However, at that time considering other site options fell outside the remit of the inquiry and they could not be investigated.
As a result of the expanded terms of reference, the public hearings due to be held as part of the inquiry have been extended to include a fifth day, while Islanders wishing to make submissions have been given until 5 pm on Friday 7 September to do so.
The inquiry is due to begin on Monday 17 September. Anyone wishing to make submissions should do so by emailing no more than 1,500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, or by sending their submission by post to Mrs Helen Wilson, New Hospital Programme Officer c/o Department of the Environment, South Hill, St Helier, JE2 4US.