Hospital plans under fire at public inquiry

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More than a dozen people gave evidence on the fourth day of the inquiry as different locations were discussed for the first time.

Fresh plans for the £466 million project have already been submitted after the original proposals were thrown out by then-Environment Minister Steve Luce due to concerns over the height and mass of the building.

UK independent planning inspector Philip Staddon has again been commissioned to hold a public inquiry into the updated plans.

However, on this occasion he has been allowed to review and make comments about other potential sites for the hospital. His terms of reference were expanded following a successful States proposition from Deputy Russell Labey.

Environmental campaigner David Cabeldu said rebuilding on the current site would cause too much disruption to patients.

He said: ‘I don’t see how the problem of noise can ever be described as minimal. There will be noise, there will be dust and there will be disruption.’

Mr Cabeldu added that he had been a patient at the hospital and, having discussed the plans with staff, believed the majority would prefer a new build on a fresh site. He suggested the Waterfront should be revisited.

Both GP Mike Nosser and Jersey Action Group chairman John Baker also suggested new proposals near the Waterfront. Mr Baker said areas of the site currently earmarked for the International Finance Centre could be repurposed to make way for the new hospital, with a car park underneath.

Former Environment Minister Rob Duhamel told the inquiry that when discussions first started around the Council of Ministers table about the need for a new hospital, studies suggested Overdale would be the best option.

Assistant Chief Minister Chris Taylor is chairing a policy development board looking at the political reasons behind the decision to build on the existing site.

Outlining the need to look at alternative sites, Mr Staddon said: ‘The applicant team have admitted that there are adverse impacts [to the current proposal].

‘It is important to state that my assessment is not a review of the political decision-making process.’

He added that yesterday’s hearing was an opportunity for concerned Islanders to ‘convince me that another site trumps the application proposal’.

Richard Glover, head of major projects, argued that the other key sites suggested – Warwick Farm, St Saviour’s Hospital, the Waterfront, Overdale and a dual-site option – posed more problems than the current site.

He said: ‘On some of the other sites, the challenges are significant and clearly contrary to the strategic policies of the Island Plan.

‘The benefits flowing from the current proposal are substantial.’

He added that the People’s Park had many positive aspects that made it a suitable site, but the public desire to maintain the area as an open space made any build there politically impossible.

Mr Staddon will report back on his findings before a decision is made on the planning application.

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