Politicians with oversight of the hospital project have quietly expanded the area being considered at Five Oaks.
When the original five-site shortlist was unveiled, just two fields at Five Oaks were highlighted as being part of the proposed area.
However, plans featured on the government website and in official documents have since been updated to show a much larger area without any official announcement.
Pictured: The original area suggested for Five Oaks.
When Express questioned why this had been done last week, the Deputy Chief Minister with responsibility for the ‘Our Hospital’ project, Senator Lyndon Farnham, responded: “The Our Hospital Political Oversight Group considered and approved the shortlist of sites shortly before they were announced to the public.
“For the Five Oaks site, the political group was initially presented with the map that illustrates the smaller area. The group noted that the Government owns a number of properties in the vicinity and asked the project team to consider whether inclusion of those properties could contribute to a better design solution for the site.
“The site maps were amended accordingly.”
However, islanders have pointed out on social media that the land being added which is already owned by government includes the plots occupied by the Le Geyt Centre and Les Amis, which Express understands haven’t been consulted. It now also includes Greenfields.
In expanding the area, the outline of the potential hospital site now also includes several privately-owned sites that weren't previously part of the shortlisted site plan, including the former JEP site and areas used by JT.
Pictured: The expanded Five Oaks site as it now appears on the government website.
The expanded area also includes more plots owned by members of the public. Overall, the new map suggests that more than 10 new sites would have to be acquired to make building there possible.
But this expansion to include more private land comes despite previous, smaller iterations of a Five Oaks hospital scheme being ruled out on the basis that the project would not be able to be delivered within the desired timescale because too many existing uses would have to be relocated.
If the Five Oaks site is chosen as the desired option, this private land will have to be purchased by government. If landowners refuse to give it up willingly, the government retains the ability to be able to force a sale.
However, the government says it is aiming to avoid compulsory purchase where possible.
Pictured: The Deputy Chief Minister said it was preferable to avoid compulsory purchase.
Ministers considered resorting to the move as they looked to snap up additional sites in Kensington Place to help the Gloucester Street hospital expand under the former ‘Future Hospital’ project.
One premises was acquired at a cost of nearly £900,000 during the drawn-out process, but, despite this, the whole project was eventually written off at a cost of £27m.
Compulsory purchase was also pondered in the acquisition of fields for the new Les Quennevais as part of a heated price-war with landowners that played out in the public eye.
Previously asked by Express whether it was preferable to avoid this process, Senator Lyndon Farnham said that the government “very much hope[s] at any stage to avoid compulsory purchase”.
Pictured: Several Kensington Place businesses owners were anxious about the prospect of their properties being compulsory purchased as part of the now-defunct plan to refurbish the current hospital site.
He added that it was “politically preferable” to use sites that are already publicly owned.
The comments suggest that Overdale – widely understood to be the Chief Minister’s favourite – was higher up the preference list.
The other site options are Millbrook Playing Field plus farm land north of the inner road in St. Lawrence, and People’s Park and St. Andrew's Park in St. Helier.
Those options are currently being contested by St. Helier and St. Lawrence’s Constables, who will be asking the States Assembly to vote in favour of taking them off the shortlist in September.
Announcing his bid to save his parish's parks, St. Helier's Constable Simon Crowcroft previously went so far as to suggest that officials had listed sites they already knew would not be met with approval by the States Assembly or public as part of a “cynical ploy” to narrow the list to their favoured zones.
Analysis by Express also raised questions about the site selection process using a questionnaire created by the Citizens Panel.
If both Constables succeed in getting their parish green spots thrown off the shortlist, the shortlist will be narrowed down to just the expanded site at Five Oaks and Overdale.
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