The Government will get a second bite of the cherry after plans to demolish buildings at Overdale to make way for the £800m new hospital were rejected, the Minister leading the project has said.
That’s because the main application, which will face a planning inquiry in April, also requests approval for demolition.
Reacting to this morning's decision by the Planning Committee to refuse permission to demolish 20 buildings on Westmount, Senator Lyndon Farnham, who leads the Our Hospital project, denied that it would have a material impact on the overall timeline to have a new hospital up and running by the end of 2026.
The committee unanimously refused the application, saying the Government was "putting the cart before the horse" in asking for permission for demolition before building the new hospital had been approved.
Senator Farnham said: “The main planning application deals with demolition anyway. The reason we put in a separate application was to get a head start on some of the disused and dilapidated buildings and to de-risk the project if something untoward turned up, like extra asbestos.
“We were never going to begin demolition of the buildings until the main application has been determined. Now demolition will be considered with the main application as part of the planning inquiry.”
That inquiry, by independent planning inspector Philip Staddon, is due to begin on Monday 4 April, having been pushed back a week to put more breathing space between the Bridging Island Plan debate and the inquiry.
He will assess the merits of planning application ‘P/2021/1670’, which was submitted in November.
The description of the application, submitted by the IHE Director-General Andrew Scaite, says: “Construct new hospital and associated buildings including mental health centre, energy centre, knowledge centre, multi storey car park, surface level parking and landscaping.
Pictured: Senator Farnham said that the separate demolition application had been submitted to get a "head start" on Overdale's empty buildings.
“Demolish existing buildings, not covered by application P/2021/1398 [the application rejected on Thursday] to include La Chapelle de St. Luc, Thorpe Cottage, Briez Izel, 1 Castle View, 5 Castle View, 1 Hillcrest, part of driveway, raised planter and strip of land at entrance to Hill Crest and Castle View, Mont Martin Cottage and two outbuildings, L’Amyerie, 1 – 3 Westmount Terrace, Berkeley Rise, Westmount House, Folly Field, part of the garden of Camden, and Jersey Bowling Club.
“Reconfigure and landscape Westmount Road, including the People’s Park, Lower Park, Westmount Gardens and Victoria Park, including changes to the playground and Petanque Courts in conjunction with associated alterations to the highway network.”
While this appears to exclude the demolition of existing hospital buildings at Overdale, documents within the application do include details about the clearance of the site.
For instance, Chapter 13 of the Environmental Impact Statement, titled Materials and Waste, gives waste estimates for all buildings due to come down.
It says: “During scoping it was identified that the proposed development is likely to generate a large volume of waste arising from construction, demolition and excavation.
“It should be assumed that any reference to ‘construction waste’ throughout this report refers to waste arising from construction, demolition and excavation.”
One appendix of the application, called Waste and Materials Collection Calculation, also estimates that 7,950 m3 of total demolition waste will be removed from the existing hospital site.
Pictured: Planning inspector Philip Staddon will lead an inquiry into the new hospital in April.
Commenting on the Planning Committee’s refusal of the demolition application, Environment Minister John Young, who will ultimately decide on P/2021/1670, said: “I gave serious thought to including the application in the planning inquiry, but I came down against that because I felt it may complicate the process.
“I decided that the Planning Committee could make that judgment against policies in the existing Island Plan and their unanimous decision on Thursday has vindicated that decision.
“As a principle, we don’t encourage the clearance of buildings before an application to replace them has been approved, because the last thing we want is to create unsightly gaps that create noise, dust and disruption.
“But the applicant chose to submit a separate application for demolition, which is their choice. They obviously have the right to appeal within 28 days but that always comes with further delay.”
Deputy Young has told Mr Staddon to assess the application against whatever Island Plan is in place at the time. This is likely to be the Bridging Island Plan, which is due to be debated next month and includes a policy specifically covering the new hospital at Overdale.
However, critics of the project have highlighted that all public comments on the application have to refer to whatever plan is currently in place.
They argue, therefore, that any comment made up to the day the Bridging Island Plan is passed will be null and void.
Campaign group Save Jersey’s Heritage has warned that the process could therefore be open to a legal challenge.
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Logically these should have been to identify a site following consultation and collaboration, obtain permission for the plans and amend if necessary, resolve all issues such as access and services, then apply for demolition of any buildings currently on the site. Running alongside all of this are the costings for the project. Other issues such as historic interests and heritage aspects are also factors.
You would think with the expertise that Senator Farnham has at his disposal fundamental errors should not be made.
It makes him look very foolish and though his bravado will say otherwise he needs to have a complete rethink here.
If due diligence had been properly followed with the planning application, regardless if this a correct site or not, it would have saved a fair amount of Public Money.
Quite how Farnham continually gets it's so wrong is baffling and testament The States is good drop out zone for people that couldn't hack it in the real World.
How would Balfour Beatty or the Kier Group react if one of their projects had been handled in this manner? It wouldn't have to because they would have followed protocol and not assumed, as being a States Member, you can do what you want. Lessons will be learned . . . ? Yawn.