The plan to build an £800m new hospital at Overdale “cannot continue to progress” without some forced land sales, the Government has said in a new report.
If States Members agree, up to £36m could be spent using compulsory purchase powers.
While more than £12m has already been spent on purchasing over a dozen properties and sections of land in the Westmount area to facilitate the build, many crucial zones are still yet to be acquired.
Officially published yesterday, the Government’s full ‘Outline Business Case’ (OBC) report contains a map showing that there is still “no negotiated position” on Field 1550 – an area believed to be the site of a lost Megalithic monument, which has been earmarked for a mental health unit.
Pictured: As it stands, there is "no negotiated position" on Field 1550 and the Jersey Bowling Club - both crucial for the new hospital and its access route.
The plans also show that no agreement has been reached to purchase the Jersey Bowling Club, which is needed as part of plans to create what has been dubbed a ‘super-highway’ up to the new hospital. The road is due to be realigned to make it shallower, wider and straighter - this will take it through the 111-year-old club’s green and pavilion.
The Government had previously said it would help find it a new home, with Warwick Farm identified as a replacement – but that plan fell through last month.
The OBC also notes that, as project plans have developed, it has become apparent that more land than initially anticipated will also have to be acquired, as well as rights of access through areas adjacent to the George V Cottage Homes and Clos des Monts through Westmount Gardens to enable “the connection of utilities.”
CLICK TO ENLARGE: The areas in red signify zones that are needed, but where a purchase has not been successfully negotiated; the areas in turquoise are rights of access that are needed; and the small areas in green are those that were not initially believed to be needed but now must be acquired.
The OBC says the project team has marked a “large area” for this “to enable a route to be chosen that makes allowance for existing trees and ecology to minimise impact and provide safe working spaces”, adding: “Surveys during the next stage of design will establish exactly where access will be required.”
With the hospital project working to a tight timeline – which will potentially see final planning approval controversially given during the elections period – the OBC is clear that “Our Hospital project cannot continue to progress without the use of Compulsory Purchase powers.”
States Members will therefore be asked on 5 October to give the green light to Ministers to use compulsory purchase in a vote.
Acquiring such properties, the Government says, is likely to cost £34.3m, but they are asking States Members to approve up to £36m to allow from “flexibility” if changes in valuations occur.
Their proposal describes compulsory purchase as a “last resort to acquire the land needed where commercial terms cannot be reached with landowners and also to resolve existing land covenants and title issues”, adding that allowing it to be used would “provide assurance that Our Hospital will have the best opportunity to meet the critical deadline of 2026 when the cost of maintaining the current hospital estate will escalate sharply.”
In addition to giving Ministers compulsory purchase powers, States Members will also be asked in October to give their formal approval to the Government's desired strategy for funding the new hospital.
As Express reported last month, the Government is hoping to finance it via two bonds of around £400m each – borrowing that will total £756m.
“Building a new hospital requires the Island to make a significant investment and we are proposing an affordable solution to borrow at historically low fixed interest rates to fund Our Hospital and maintain our existing reserves. This will enable the States to generate more income from our reserves than interest would be payable on debt, without seeking additional taxes from islanders,” Treasury Minister Deputy Susie Pinel said.
Pictured: The Treasury Minister said the desired funding route would avoid taxes having to be raised.
Deputy Chief Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham, who has political responsibility for the project added: “It is essential that we keep the project moving forward. Taking advantage of the current low interest rates will provide the most cost-effective means of funding the new hospital and avoid further unnecessary costs for the island.”
Scrutineers are continuing to gather views on the plans and are asking members of the public to share what they believe are the key issues States Members should consider when debating the funding proposal and what further information, if any, they need about the proposed project funding.
“The scale of the Our Hospital Project will have a lasting impact on Jersey’s healthcare and finances for generations to come. It is vital that individuals and organisations take the opportunity to share their views on how it should be funded and whether the budget committed is appropriate for the project and for Jersey,” Future Hospital Review Panel Chair, Senator Kristina Moore, said.
All members of the public (individuals or organisations) are encouraged to share their views by 31 August and can get involved by:
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