The meeting, which the JEP has obtained details of, took place in Plérin in Brittany two weeks ago and was organised by a group of Islanders investigating alternative sites for Jersey’s future hospital.
The proposals, which the JEP has been told come in at less than a fifth of the current forecast cost for a new hospital, were said to have ‘opened Mr Taylor’s eyes’.
Mr Taylor was accompanied on the trip by hospital review board colleague Deputy Trevor Pointon and Public Accounts Committee member Deputy Carina Alves.
Speaking on behalf of the group that organised the trip, Bruce Willing said that the project proposed by the French firm AIA Life Designers would provide more flexibility for any necessary future expansion of the new hospital.
However, he added, its feasibility relied on a greenfield site being made available in the Island.
‘The Plérin Hospital [a project recently designed and completed by AIA Life Designers in Brittany] represents an alternative to Jersey’s Future Hospital being constructed in Gloucester Street, as it offers a flexible construction method that can provide the entire Future Hospital requirement on a single site with built-in room for expansion during its design life of 60 years,’ he said. ‘However, the key to producing such a hospital is a greenfield site.’
Fellow group member,Graham Bisson added that the politicians who had attended the hospital site visit and architectural presentation in Plérin had responded favourably, and he understood that they would be reporting back to Chief Minister John Le Fondré and States chief executive Charlie Parker.
‘AIA Life Designers have considerable experience and expertise in other countries,’ he said. ‘They are currently building hospitals in China and Monaco, and have completed many other similar projects. Their ethos is always to work backwards from input given by patients and staff, and to design a project around that. This clearly has not happened in the current Jersey project.
‘I think the visit opened Mr Taylor’s eyes and it is my understanding that he has spoken to the Chief Minister about it and wants to organise a second fact-finding trip to Plérin before the end of this year, so that Senator Le Fondré, the States chief executivef, Charlie Parker, and the Health Minister, Richard Renouf, can all see what Mr Taylor has seen for himself.’
Nicolas Boucher, architect and project manager at AIA Life Designers, confirmed that the hospital project in Jersey could potentially be delivered for £90 million. He added that building on a greenfield site would allow potential future development.
‘It is a question of flexibility,’ he said. ‘A greenfield site allows for a hospital to potentially adapt to the spatial requirements of new practices and technologies if needed. This is not always something that can be foreseen at the start of a project, so flexibility is key.’
He added that AIA Life Designers would be ready to make a formal visit to the Island and tender for the project if invited.
Senator Le Fondré and Mr Taylor have declined to comment on the trip. However, a government spokeswoman said that Mr Taylor ‘visited a hospital in France in a private capacity’ and that it ‘was not part of the Hospital Review Board’s work’ and had been paid for by Mr Taylor personally.