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New hospital: £38m, two rejections and no clear way forward

New hospital: £38m, two rejections and no clear way forward

Tuesday 15 January 2019

New hospital: £38m, two rejections and no clear way forward

Tuesday 15 January 2019

Third time lucky or three strikes and you're out? It seems Ministers are not ruling out having yet another crack at getting a planning application through to build a £466m hospital around the current site.

Two Environment Ministers - Deputies John Young and Steve Luce - have now rejected plans for the development on that site, with more than £38m having been spent on them so far.

Refusal number 2 came yesterday, and followed the recommendations of independent Planning Inspector Philip Staddon, who concluded that the updated version of Gloucester Street hospital planning application was an improvement, but was still too large and likely to have an “exceptionally severe” impact on the build’s dozens of neighbouring residents.

“What I can say is that the current scheme is far superior to the first scheme. The Applicant’s team has worked hard to produce a calmer, more sophisticated and refined proposal, but, despite the progress, significant Planning harm would still result,” he wrote in a 98-page report explaining his conclusions. 

Video: The Environment Minister delivering his verdict on the planning application yesterday.

Amid concerns over the previous States Assembly’s decision to revamp the current hospital site rather than building afresh, the inspector was also tasked with assessing alternative locations.

He concluded that there was no “stand out” option, but that there were “realistic” alternatives that would not cause the same “adverse demolition/construction impacts, including the disruption to the existing hospital”. 

However, he noted that while these locations would not cause operational difficulties, they would come with their own set of political challenges. 

“There is no perfect site, but there are alternatives that could deliver the hospital project with different environmental effects and consequences,” Mr Staddon observed.

Those alternatives include Overdale, Warwick Farm, St. Saviour’s Hospital, the Waterfront and People’s Park.


Pictured: People's Park was described as having advantages but "locally controversial" by the independent Planning Inspector in his report.

Of these, People’s Park was described in the most positive terms – “sustainable, accessible and very close to the existing hospital”. However, the inspector acknowledged that it was so “locally controversial” that had previously been taken off the table altogether by the previous Health Minister following pressure from campaigners. 

Despite involving the loss of an open space, the inspector noted that the existing hospital site could, in future, provide a “compensatory” new park. 

But Ministers say it’s too soon to decide their next move, with the Health Minister, Deputy Richard Renouf, yesterday denying that plans to regenerate the current hospital site were dead in the water.

Describing the planning refusal as a “disappointment” and a “setback”, he told Express: “No clear alternative has emerged from this. The inspector is saying that all other sites under consideration had equal planning difficulties so to me it appears that there’s no site in Jersey that meets acceptable planning criteria for a new hospital. 


Pictured: Health Minister Richard Renouf said he would support any site that had political approval, which was why he was backing the current plans to regenerate the Gloucester Street site.

“We then move onto considering the public interest and the Planning Minister has clearly come down on one side of that argument that he doesn’t believe the public interest merits saying ‘yes’ to this application, but that’s one States Member.” 

He continued: “I acknowledge there will be difficult issues around a third application, but what we’ve also got to weigh up is, what other alternatives would there be? … 

The Health Minister had previously faced criticism – and even calls for his resignation – over his firm commitment to progressing the current hospital site. He told Express yesterday that this was because politicians had already voted in favour of it and that returning to square one with a new site risked further delay and a potential impact on patient care.

However, in a move that may abate those calls, he provided reassurance that he would take on board the feelings of the Council of Ministers and wider States Assembly, to whom the Chief Minister has pledged a decisive final vote on the site question.

states assembly states chamber

Pictured: The Council of Ministers will be discussing the decision this week, with the Chief Minister having pledged a final say to States Members on the issue.

“I would support whatever comes forward as the States-approved plan because that is what I have been doing with regard to the fact that the States have made a decision. To stick to that decision with planning permission would have given us a start on a hospital very soon.”

The next step in the process will involve discussions among the Council of Ministers about how to progress, with the Chief Minister declaring yesterday that it was “prudent” to consider the planning inspector’s thoughts “before announcing how the government wishes to proceed.”

Despite his Ministerial title, the Environment Minister said that he would be staying well away from discussions, in order to remain impartial given that he will have to make a decision on any future hospital planning applications. “It’s a very lonely role being Minister for the Environment,” Deputy Young, who will this month face questions from the Future Hospital Review Panel over his decision, joked.

He declined to profess a view on any of the sites when asked by Express, but did express concern over how the planning process had been handled thus far, and how it was that a second application containing many of the same flaws as the original had been put forward for approval.


Pictured: The Planning Minister said there were "question marks" over how the current flawed planning application had reached the approval stage in the first place. 

“I do have a question mark. I have question marks on how it was that the new application – the one we’ve just judged – went in before the election, several months after the previous one. 

“Why was that it didn’t deal with all the detailed matters that the inspector says have not been resolved, and why it was that on the first time the Jersey Architectural Commission said there were unresolved issues with [the application], significant ones? I do ask how we got into that.” 

He said that he hoped any subsequent planning applications – whether a third application for the same site or in a different location – would be handled better.

“I think the next time a planning application comes forward then all the issues with it should be thrashed out in great detail so that we don’t put ourselves in that situation again, wherever that is.”

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Posted by nigel pearce on
Perhaps the Ann St. site could provide a suitable alternative as the housing project has been suspended. This would release the gloucester St. area plus possibly the Overdale site for housing development.
Posted by John Henwood on
The only thing more astonishing than the Heath Minister failing to say, unequivocally, that the plan to build a new hospital on the current site is dead, was to hear the Infrastructure Minister saying that the plan should be further progressed. Are they both completely insensitive to public opinion? Do they both live in some other dimension? The new hospital issue has been running seven years. Two Health Ministers have tried to get plans passed, both have failed. Another attempt at getting similar proposals approved will result in further procrastination and additional unnecessary cost. Stop this now. Draw a line under the failed plan to shoe-horn a new facility into an inappropriate site and move on with choosing a more appropriate location without further delay.
Posted by William Boyd on
Between the hospital farce, the appointment of a man intent on destroying public service moral whilst saving nothing and on the national scene, Brexit, no wonder there is a huge disconnect, distrust and loathing of all politicians. The only time they deign to even pretend to listen to you is when they come a knocking on your door begging for votes.
Posted by Roy Bester on
Out standing news we will go again with a planning application for the third time, good god Renouf should now resign along with Kevin Lewis as he also would like Glouster street as the preferred site for the new Hospital.
Posted by Julie Childs on
I dont live in Jersey but after visiting last yr and finding out that the proposals to extend the existing site were not thought through properly. Not only would it put businesses out of work, I.e hotels, Jersey heritage and the effects all work would have on existing patients in hosp through all the dust and dirt created by the work, which I dont think we're taken into consideration. Not including all the lost revenue from the lack of hotel beds for tourism in summer months. Maybe building a new hospital somewhere else would be better
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