The planning policy against which the new hospital will be judged has been updated to make it easier to return to a 'dual-site option' - should an application to build it at Overdale be refused.
The Environment Minister has accepted an amendment from Senator Kristina Moore, which also aims to make it clearer that Overdale could be used for non-healthcare uses, such as housing, if the Our Hospital plan flounders.
She said: “A considerable number of representations have been made to the draft Bridging Island Plan process and it would only be right to ask the Assembly to ensure that there are alternatives available to Ministers should the Inspector find against the Our Hospital plans.
“Following the revelations of the issues regarding rehabilitative care on Plémont Ward and the Assembly’s almost unanimous decision on 19 January to re-open Samarès Ward. It is clear that a new approach to care delivery is required.
“On Thursday 3 February the Planning Committee refused permission to demolish the existing, serviceable buildings on the Overdale site, due to the policies that surround the demolition of buildings that are for purpose.
Pictured: Senator Moore believes that a dual-site option is the best solution for a new hospital in Jersey, with Gloucester Street being the main facility.
“It would appear wise for the consideration of a dual site to be undertaken at this point and for alternative uses for the Overdale site to be available for consideration should the planning application fail.
“The time has come to think about the potential solutions in a logical and cost-effective manner in order to best serve the public.
“This amendment serves to enable that process and not bind the site to a fate of being left semi-derelict and without further purpose if the inspector find against the Our Hospital plans.”
Senator Moore, who has long been critical of the Government’s plan to build a £804m ‘health campus’ on Westmount, said she was expecting her amendment to be rejected, but was pleased that it had been accepted.
“Either they did not want to have another debate about the site of the hospital or they are starting to see the writing on the wall after the Planning Department’s recommendation that the application is refused,” she said.
Giving his reasons for accepting the amendment, Environment Minister John Young said that the BIP “already made adequate provisions to deal with the development of the hospital on an existing healthcare site or sites.”
However, he said that an addition to one sentence in the policy, proposed by Senator Moore, was a “helpful addition”.
Part of the key Our Hospital policy now reads: “Proposals for the alternative use of land designated as part of the ‘Our Hospital development site’ will not be supported except where it can be demonstrated that the site, or any part of it, is no longer required to support the delivery of Our Hospital" [italics refer to Senator Moore's additional wording].
Senator Moore said this would prevent Overdale being “empty and locked down” should the Our Hospital plan not proceed.
The Scrutiny head’s personal preference is for a new hospital to be built at its current site in Gloucester Street with rehabilitation services and a mental health unit being based at Overdale.
A dual-site option, with healthcare facilities split between Gloucester Street and Overdale, was the Government’s preferred option in 2013, but this was later changed to a single-site preference, first at the People’s Park, then Gloucester Street and now Overdale.
Express spoke to Deputy John Young, Jersey's Environment Minister...
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