It's emerged the Parish of St Helier officially declined to support the planning application for the new hospital - despite being one of the main landowners - meaning the Environment Minister will now have to decide whether it’s in the public interest to accept it anyway.
Plans to build the £800m facility at Overdale were submitted to the Planning Department last Monday (15 November) on the same day that Constable Simon Crowcroft was asked to approve them on behalf of the Parish of St. Helier.
The Parish is one of the main landowners, meaning their approval was sought before the plans were submitted. However, the Parish’s CEO, Jason Turner, confirmed today that Constable Crowcroft had declined to provide it.
Pictured: Constable Simon Crowcroft refused to sign the landowner’s certificate on behalf of the Parish.
“The Constable responded the same day, explaining that he was not in a position to sign the landowner’s certificate, reflecting the outcomes of recent Parish Assembly discussions regarding acquisition and use of the land, and the proposed re-provision of land and facilities for the Jersey Bowling Club which were unresolved,” he explained.
The latest refusal from the Parish means the Minister for the Environment will still have to decide whether it is in the public interest to accept the application without the approval of the Parish.
The Planning and Building Law states that if a landowner declines to agree to a planning application being submitted, the Minister has powers to issue a Ministerial Decision to accept it regardless.
Express has contacted the Our Hospital team and Senator Lyndon Farnham, who chairs the Our Hospital Political Oversight Group, and is waiting for a reply.
In February, parishioners voted to stop all work on Westmount Road until the Parish had “confirmed at a further assembly that it has received the details it requires”. Four months later, when the Our Hospital team went back to the parish to ask if it now had the information it needed to back the proposal, the answer was no.
165 parishioners told planners and politicians to go back to the drawing board while those happy with the proposals barely reached double figures, prompting the man whose 'requête' led to the initial assembly, Advocate Olaf Blakeley, to call for Senator Farnham to step aside.
Pictured: In February, parishioners voted to stop all work on Westmount Road until the Parish had “confirmed at a further assembly that it has received the details it requires”.
The Parish's Roads Committee has also written to the Planning Department urging them not to approve the demolition of Overdale until the full hospital application has received the green light, over concerns a derelict site could be left behind if the project fails.
It came after the Parish called out the Government for refusing to discuss detailed road access plans for the new hospital in public.
The Roads Committee was due to hear about the Westmount highway plans last Wednesday, but Our Hospital project officials tried to get the item moved to the private ‘B Agenda’.
In a statement released on Friday afternoon, the Roads Committee explained: "At the St. Helier Roads Committee meeting held on Wednesday 17 November 2021, the Committee expressed its disappointment that the ‘Our Hospital’ team did not present proposals relating to the new hospital’s impact on parish roads as expected. This was due to the fact that the majority of Roads Committee meeting items form part of the ‘A agenda’ that is open to the public, but the ‘Our Hospital’ team had requested the matter be discussed under the ‘B agenda’ which is closed to the public."
Pictured: Deputy John Young, the Minister for the Environment, will have to decide whether to accept the planning application or not.
The Planning Application, which has yet to appear on the planning website, not only includes the creation of the new building and its associated landscaping, but the realignment of Westmount Road and the demolition of properties outside the Overdale site such as the Jersey Bowling Club, the Jersey Water building and some private properties.
Included in the submitted documents will be an Environmental Impact Assessment assessing how wildlife in the area will be impacted.
Unlike the demolition application, the hospital planning application will entail a full public inquiry, allowing islanders and interested bodies to make submissions on all elements.
That inquiry is expected to take place in late spring, with permission hoped to be received in summer 2022, allowing construction to start straight after.
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