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Push to protect green space around future hospital 'highway'

Push to protect green space around future hospital 'highway'

Thursday 28 January 2021

Push to protect green space around future hospital 'highway'


St. Helier's Constable has launched a bid to protect green spaces and trees around People’s Park and Westmount Road, ahead of a key vote on the access route to the future hospital.

In addition, Constable Simon Crowcroft is requesting that any trees, community and parking facilities lost in the development of the road be replaced.

The States Assembly are due to debate the Council of Ministers’ proposition on Westmount Road - which would see it kept as a two-way road with areas for walking and cycling - on 9 February. 

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Pictured: Constable Simon Crowcroft says he wants to formalise the discussions he has had with the Government.

Following the publication of the proposals, the St. Helier Constable said his parish had received assurances from Government that the impact of the proposed route would be kept to a minimum, with all lost facilities replaced.

He explained that his amendments sought to “formalise" these agreements, but would not negate the need for the Government to purchase parish land.

Previously, as politicians voted to approve Overdale as the preferred hospital site last month, the Constable had succeeded in bringing an amendment for a report to be officially presented to the States Assembly laying out alternatives to a widened Westmount Road being the main access to the hospital, including creating a one-way system up that hill.

He had previously attended meetings held by residents living in the area who were concerned about the disruption that would be caused to them, and the impact on the value of their homes.

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Pictured: The St. Helier Constable wants to protect the green spaces and trees in the area of Westmount Road.

In a report explaining his latest set of amendments, Constable Crowcroft said that he hoped the roadworks would not be “the nightmare scenario” some have described with “People’s Park reduced to a postage stamp and the charms of Westmount Road… lost to a new highway of UK proportions."

Due to the lack of green space available, which he said is only going to get worse as new homes are built in town over the next few years, the St. Helier representative said it was essential to protect the existing open space and tree-planting.

He is not only asking the Government to “keep to an absolute minimum any requirement to use green areas and to fell trees”, but also that they replace any that are lost in the process.

The Constable is also requesting that the Government replaces the Jersey Bowling Club, which has been operating on St. Helier land for over a century, as well as the Parish’s pétanque terrains between St. Aubin’s Road and Peirson Road, and the playground and exercise equipment at People’s Park. 

Finally, the Constable is seeking the replacement of the 101 parking spaces along Peirson Road and St. Aubin’s Road that will be lost as a result of the highway changes.

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Pictured: If Constable Crowcroft's proposition is adopted, the Government will have to replace parking spaces lost in the roadworks.

He is not the only politician making an official attempt to tweak the Government's road proposals.

The Future Hospital Review Panel has submitted an amendment that, if approved, would require the States Assembly to approve the preliminary outline design of the preferred access before any engineering work can start.

It comes after Deputy Chief Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham admitted last week that no detailed visuals had yet been created of how Westmount will look after its transformation into a wider, two-way access route. 

Grilled by St. Helier Deputy Inna Gardiner, whose constituency includes the area, Senator Farnham said in last week's States Assembly meeting: “Once a preferred access route has been agreed by the Assembly, the design team can then commence the detailed design of that route as part of the planning application process and will also be able to, importantly, continue design of the hospital building itself.”

The Scrutiny Panel is however asking that, should the Ministers’ proposals be adopted, a report should be presented to the States Assembly by 2 March. This should include a Preliminary Design of the preferred option, with land ownership constraints, as well as the impact on neighbouring houses, schools and the environment and the anticipated cost.

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Pictured: The Future Hospital Review Panel wants the Assembly to approve the design of the access route.

In a report explaining their amendment, the Panel said they had repeatedly asked whether the design would be presented to the Assembly for approval but had been informed that the final decision would ultimately be taken by the Planning Committee. 

“The Panel is worried the States are being asked to approve the access route to the hospital without a design and the data to understand what the impact will be on the surrounding area,” they wrote.

Their concerns echo those expressed by former Assistant Health Minister Senator Steve Pallett, who told Express earlier this week that he wouldn’t be able to support the proposition in the absence of any visuals.

“They are not giving us the information to make a decision or support them,” he said. 

“We need to be kept up to date and it is not happening. Unless somebody provides me with some detail about the damage to People’s Park, I am not going to vote for that access road. I need to know what is going to happen, because what I don’t want to see is People’s Park halved in size or damaged to a degree it is not the amenity it is now.”

In addition, the Panel voiced concerns that the £15.5m budget announced for the highway work was likely to spiral if the design has not been finalised, as the Development Director of the Our Hospital Team said the reason for the absence of design was the “significant amount of money” it would cost. 

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Pictured: The States Assembly will be debating the access route proposal and both amendments on 9 February.

“The Panel asks the States to accept this amendment which will allow Members the opportunity to approve the design and have a clearer understanding of the impact the roadworks will have on the surrounding area,” the Panel wrote. 

“Once the impacts of the design have been assessed, then the proposition, brought by the Council of Ministers, which contains this further detail can be debated and the access route finally decided upon. 

“If Members are not being given the opportunity to approve the design, the Panel believes the only recourse of action it has is to bring this amendment.”

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Posted by Private Individual on
Another government debacle in the making.
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