The government is aiming to avoid using its legal powers to force home and landowners to sell plots for the new hospital, the Deputy Chief Minister has said.
The sites currently on the table are: St Andrew’s Park, People’s Park, Overdale, a group of fields to the north of Five Oaks in St Saviour, and Millbrook playing field (the Nightingale Wing’s current site) plus farm land north of the inner road in St Lawrence.
But not all of these are already wholly owned by the public and will involve entering into purchase negotiations.
If these fail, the government may have to use the power of compulsory purchase – a controversial and often painful process.
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.
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.
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.
Asked by Express whether it was preferable to avoid this process, Deputy Chief Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham, who holds political responsibility for the new hospital project, said that the government “very much hope[s] at any stage to avoid compulsory purchase”.
He added that it was “politically preferable” to use sites that are already publicly owned.
Pictured: Deputy Chief Minister said it was preferable to avoid purchasing sites.
The comments suggest that Overdale – the preferred site of the Assistant Chief Minister and long-rumoured to also be the Chief Minister’s – is likely to be higher up the preference list, as the large site is already in public ownership.
The site is not without challenges, however, with Our Hospital Project Director Richard Bannister pointing out the steep incline to reach the facility.
While the hospital already holds some laundry facilities at Five Oaks, building there will likely involve acquiring more land.
Mr Bannister noted that the residential nature of the area and high traffic levels during the school rush hours would also pose a challenge.
Building at Millbrook would involve purchasing the main site from the descendants of Florence Boot, who hold it in trust, as well as using a field on the other side of the road.
The location comes with the additional drawback that it would likely be too far outside St. Helier to bring economic benefits to nearby shops and businesses.
Pictured: The Millbrook playing field site would have to be acquired from the descendants of Florence Boot.
St. Helier’s Constable has also mounted a political challenge to building at People’s Park or St. Andrew’s Park – the latter of which is owned by St. Helier and believed to be guarded by a number of restrictive covenants, particularly given that it houses both a church and dolmen.
Mr Bannister said that the Project Team would have to find an “alternative replacement” for the loss of green space resulting from building on either site.
This might come in the form of an extension to Parade Park, Senator Farnham hinted, as Express asked him about the fate of property acquired in Kensington Place.
“It’s undecided yet what will happen there - a lot depends on the outcome of final selection process,” he said, adding that the two most likely uses would be a commercial or for extending recreational space in the area.
“There are lots of options still to be discussed,” he said.
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