The proposed new hospital is a “visual intrusion” which is so enormous that it will irrevocably damage the island’s landscape and heritage, a heritage campaign group has told a public inquiry.
Save Jersey’s Heritage described the main building designed for Overdale as “a “behemoth, a monster and a juggernaut” that would “eyeball” Fort Regent from the town’s opposing escarpment.
The Our Hospital team disagreed, however, not only arguing that the building could become a landmark but also, from a heritage perspective, assessing its impact as “significant but moderate”.
Giving evidence on Day Three of a public inquiry into whether planning consent should be given, SJH chairman Christopher Schofield said that the main building, which is more than 31m high in some parts, would “harm its setting beyond repair” and had no link to its surroundings.
“This colossal structure could be an insecticide or car factory for all we know,” he said.
Video: Day Three of the public inquiry into the Our Hospital project focused on heritage and visual impact.
He said that visitors arriving at the Harbour, having already “winced” looking at the apartments above Portelet Bay, would be met by a “looming, uneasy juxtaposition” above St. Helier.
He conceded that mistakes had been made in the past, such as the incinerator, but these should be learned from rather than added to.
The Our Hospital team’s heritage adviser Steven Bee had earlier said the impact of the building on views from Elizabeth Castle and St. Aubin’s Fort were moderate because most people’s enjoyment of them was facing out to sea.
He added: “Views are inevitably impacted from the historic town of St Helier but because of the cumulative effect of existing development, the overall effect is minor and not of general significance.”
Mr Bee also highlighted plans to improve public understanding of the heritage of the area by building a new lookout, with interpretation boards, on the inside of the realigned hairpin of Westmount Road.
CLICK TO ENLARGE: An impression of the view of the new hospital from Fort Regent.
This would include reference to the 1781 Battle of Jersey, as Major Francis Peirson had mustered troops on Westmount before descending on the Royal Square.
During the session, Planning’s heritage adviser Tracey Ingle expressed her view that the design did not comply with heritage-related policies in the Bridging Island Plan.
“I would suggest that, in heritage terms, the benefit to the public of this development is not clear, direct and evidenced,” she said.
CLICK TO ENLARGE: An impression of the main building’s main entrance off a realigned Westmount Road.
The public inquiry, which is being overseen by independent planning inspector Philip Staddon, continues until the end of this week.
Mr Staddon will then make a recommendation to Environment Minister John Young as to whether the Government’s planning application should be approved or not
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