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"Over-dominant, obtrusive and alien" - new hospital rejected

Wednesday 10 January 2018

"Over-dominant, obtrusive and alien" - new hospital rejected

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Concerns over the sheer size of the £466 million new hospital development - described as “grossly out of scale of the immediate surroundings” - have led the Environment Minister to reach for his 'reject' stamp, saying the application has "been led by clinicians, not designers."

It's the latest major setback for Jersey's biggest ever capital project, which has so far seen a debate over its funding delayed three times before being finally agreed, as well as Ministers' preferred location of the People's Park knocked back following a public outcry.

The latest blow follows the release of the long awaited planning report by an independent inspector following a week long public inquiry in November.

The report by inspector Philip Staddon outlined three critical areas which led to his recommendation for Deputy Steve Luce to refuse planning permission.

future hospital design 2016 gloucester street view

Pictured: View of proposed future hospital design from Gloucester Street. 

Those key areas were…

Sheer size:

Mr Staddon describes the future hospital design as over-dominant, obtrusive and alien. He’s concerned that it would harm the area and detract from visual amenities in many locations, and that it conflicts with the Island Plan’s Strategic Policy.

The report reads: “…the application site area is far too small to accommodate successfully the amount of floorspace proposed. The parametric ‘design’ that results is fundamentally unacceptable in townscape and urban design terms. These are not matters that can be finessed away by clever design at a detailed Planning (‘reserved matters’) stage.

Damage to Heritage assets:

The words "serious harm" were used when describing the impact, the development would have to listed buildings on the site, including the nineteenth century Grade 1 hospital building and the Opera House on Gloucester Street. The Inspector felt that due to the height of the proposed hospital – the impact would stretch further afield to Elizabeth Castle, Fort Regent and even Noirmont Point.

Harm to neighbours:

The report said the development would lead to unreasonable harm to residential properties in the area due to loss of daylight, shadowing effects and likely loss of privacy because of the development’s overbearing scale and presence.  

The Environment Minister, Deputy Steve Luce, said that he shared Mr Staddon's concerns, and couldn’t ignore them. 

steve Luce andy scate

Pictured: Deputy Steve Luce, the Environment Minister, and Andy Scate, the Department's Chief Officer.

Referring to the application, the Minister said: “I always knew it would be hugely problematic.”

On reaching his decision to reject the planning application, Deputy Luce said: “The words dramatic, serious and detrimental has been used a number of times (in the report) as well as stark, out of scale, significant and severe. These are serious words (...) therefore I have decided this application to be refused."

The report did conclude, however, that the proposed site of the current General Hospital, which was voted by the States Assembly, is appropriate. The current hospital works well for the community and there’s no reason it can’t continue to do so. It also stated that transport to the area is well served and will be even better in future. 

General Hospital

Pictured: The Inspector's report found the current site is appropriate for the future hospital. 

Although inconvenient and in some cases ‘severe’, the inspector didn’t think the challenges surrounding the demolition of a number of properties along Kensington Place - including hotels and parts of the hospital - was enough of a reason to object the application. 

All these positive findings, were however, clearly outweighed by the negative impact of the height of the development.

Addressing the design of the £466 million development, Deputy Luce explained: "My view, and one that is shared by the inspector, that this application has been led by clinicians and not by designers. While there will obviously be a clear need for major input from those that have to work in the hospital, the size and outline cannot be directed entirely by them because, as with all planning issues, it will always need to be a compromise."

The Environment Minister feels the planning application would have been better if the development was wider and deeper - he mentioned that it only included one basement level, and not made use of the 1960’s and 1980’s blocks - rather than choosing to build upwards.

future hospital design 2016

Pictured: Proposed design of future hospital which has been rejected. 

Although Deputy Luce says there is no doubt in his mind that a new hospital is required, he warns the applicant that: “It’s clear that if this project is going to progress than something has to give, If the floor area required for this new hospital is non-negotiable then more space will be needed.

“The applicant needs to think about this before deciding the next move. The single stage build, the timescale set down, the footprint indicated and the Island Plan are currently incompatible,” said the Environment Minister.

Responding to the refusal of the planning application, the Health Minister, Senator Andrew Green, has written: "I am naturally disappointed that the outline planning application has not been approved. The inspector has agreed this is the right location for a new hospital, but that the proposed site is too small for the size of building that’s needed. Complex planning permissions of this kind are often the subject of prolonged discussion. I will now take time, with the project team, to study the detail of the inspector’s report so we can plan the next steps. Everyone agrees that Jersey needs this new hospital and I am committed to delivering it. We need to work together to see how we can best provide Jersey with this essential facility on the agreed location.”

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Comments on this story express the views of the commentator only, not Bailiwick Publishing. We are unable to guarantee the accuracy of any of those comments.

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Posted by Peter Huntingdon Bewers on
We all wondered if this would happen, the proposed Building is simply to big for the site ! This only leaves two options , 1. More property is going to have to be purchased in Kensington Place , and the old original Granite Building knocked down to incorporate a part of the required site, or a completely new site , with sufficient room will have to be used, we are , all said and done spending a huge amount of money, so it is very important we , the Islanders , get it right.
I have been wondering about using the Sacre Coure and old Ambulance Depot site in Rouge Boullion ? it is very near to the centre of Town , and provided a good road system by possibly using West Park Avenue to reach it quickly , to my mind it is woerth consideration , as this area is planned for residential development now. The Old Hospital site could be used by Andiem Homes for much needed residential development or Sold to reduce the huge cost of the New Hospital, This Pause by the Planning Minister will give Islanders and future States Members a great opportunity for a Re Think on I feel a rushed and not well thought through decision.
Posted by William Boyd on
It surely must be a good thing to let clinicians tell us what they need? They will,be working and treating patients innthere after all. Designers design things as they wish to have them not as the users wish to have them. We must listen to the clinicians and if that means moving it or adapting it so be it bust we must listen to doctors and nurses.
Posted by BenjamineGiovannoni on
I don’t mean to throw any more controversy into the mix about West Park, but what if the hospital were knocked down (to the exception of the 19th century grade 1 building, which in turn could be made into a community centre, some parts used as a refuge, maybe?) and the parade gardens extended over the area currently covered by the hospital. We would have a huge park in the centre of town and West Park could then be used as the new site, with an intelligent and integrated design that would allow for green spaces all around and over the hospital. And yes clinicians need to be consulted so they can confirm the ergonomic specs and the floor space they need.
On another matter, has anyone thought about turning Snow Hill car park into a multi storey with a lift that would re-connect town to Fort Regent?
And please, if the hospital is to be knocked down, do not allow more housing. The town needs green spaces!
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