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Politicians to vote on £15m hospital road plan…without knowing what it will look like

Politicians to vote on £15m hospital road plan…without knowing what it will look like

Thursday 21 January 2021

Politicians to vote on £15m hospital road plan…without knowing what it will look like


Politicians will not get to see any “meaningful visuals or designs” of how a £15m roadworks project paving the way for a new hospital at Overdale will look before they vote on it next month – because none exist yet.

Deputy Chief Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham admitted this week that no diagram has yet been created of how Westmount will look after its transformation into a wider, two-way access route, which will involve the removal of the Bowls Club.

He said that those would only come if the States Assembly approve the ‘Our Hospital: Preferred Access Route’ proposals, which are scheduled for debate on 9 February.

Grilled by St. Helier Deputy Inna Gardiner, whose constituency includes the area, in this week’s States Assembly meeting, Senator Farnham said: “Once a preferred access route has been agreed by the Assembly, the design team can then commence the detailed design of that route as part of the planning application process and will also be able to, importantly, continue design of the hospital building itself.

In short, a brand-new road it is proposed will be created, it will be a high quality reduced gradient, safer with broader pavements and cycle paths access but of course, the detail of the design, the design, the impact on the air and the environment are very much planning issues and I don’t think it would be appropriate for the States to be involved in that level of detail at this stage. I think we have to agree the principle and then let the planning process deal with the details.I am not sure it is as simple as drawing a picture of a road. I think we all know what roads look like, what good quality roads look like and really, before we can produce meaningful visuals, they do have to complete, or at least start working, on detailed and design itself. 

“Once the States- if the States, approve the principle of the access via Westmount Road, then that work can begin in earnest and once they get started we can then start sharing some meaningful visuals and designs.” 

Overdale_main.jpg

Pictured: The primary access route has been one of the most prominent questions hanging over the new hospital project.

Deputy Gardiner, however, responded by making the point that other plans yet to be given formal approval - such as SOJDC’s proposals to transform the Waterfront - had included detailed visuals.

Deputy Mike Higgins, also a St. Helier representative, asked for a diagram showing the impact on the park below Westmount. He noted that any encroachment might lead States Members to vote against the plan. 

Maintaining that he was “certainly not being evasive”, the Minister suggested that some individuals “with an interest” had created and circulated their own visuals, presenting a view that “couldn’t be further from the truth.”

He went on to emphasise that, of all the options assessed, the route being proposed “produced the least environmental impact, it produced the least environmental destruction by quite some margin, much less than going up from the Inner Road, which would have cost not only more environmental damage but also disruption to many more homes.”

We will endeavour to provide as much information as possible but it is simply impossible to provide a detailed visuals without proper design work being started and to do that we need the approval of the Assembly,” he added. 

Residents living in the area began raising concerns about the impact of potential large-scale roadworks after the confirmation of Overdale as the preferred site for the new hospital last year.

They held a number of Town Hall meetings, which were attended by Senator Farnham, and chaired by Constable of the Parish, Simon Crowcroft. 

Many individuals said at the time that they did not feel enough information was being provided about how the landscape was expected to change, and the potential impact on those living nearby who would suddenly find themselves neighbouring a main road. 

Others spoke of the potential loss of history from the area once known as ‘Gallows Hill’, which is also where Major Pierson assembled the troops ahead of the attack on the French troops in the Battle of Jersey on 6 January 1781. 

Defenders of the area have now banded together in a 400-strong Facebook group called ‘Guardians of Westmount Road and People’s Park’.

They are encouraging States Members to take a walk up Westmount Road throughout this month to “understand what will be lost by doubling the width” of the road. 

Senator Kristina Moore, who is leading a Scrutiny Review on the proposed access route, completed the walk earlier in the month and invited Senator Farnham to do the same on Twitter.

Launching her review last year, Senator Moore said: "It’s crucial that we establish any limitations to the access road now before building work commences," Chief Scrutineer, Senator Kristina Moore, commented.

“The Panel needs to provide assurance to all those affected by this proposed option that the 70+ options were assessed appropriately and that the best option is the one that is being put forward.”

The Preferred Access Route proposals state that the "specific costs to deliver the off-site highways and junction upgrades is estimated to be £15.1m", but that there will be additional costs from acquiring sites for access works. Overall, the Future Hospital budget - including contingency costs - sits at £800m.

A recent response to a Freedom of Information request revealed that, up to the end of November 2020, £9.2m has been spent on the Our Hospital project. £19,500 of that expenditure has specifically been linked to Overdale as the preferred site

Senator Farnham appeared before the Future Hospital Review Panel this morning to face further questions. You can watch his exchanges with the panel here.

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Posted by Bruce Willing on
Why is anyone surprised by this development? States members happily voted on the Jersey Care Model (JCM) on 3rd November (P114/2020) without understanding what it represents in hospital service reductions, presumably as, to understand it, they had to read the accompanying 493-page document. They also happily signed-up to Overdale (P123/2020) as the Our Hospital site location, again having not read the 202-page document accompanying it in which the requirement for the modifications to Westmount Road are set out. Then States members went on to vote through P156/2020 allowing the HCS to take £11.3 million out of a forward commitment to reduce the Health Insurance Fund (HIF) by £28.1 million in order for the JCM to be developed between now and 2025, thus removing a huge amount from a contributory fund designed to defray the cost of patients visits to GPs'. Now they are faced with only 117 pages in P176/2020 to be debated on 9th February 2021, which sets out the only sensible option of an approach road to Overdale as enlarging Westmount Road to 12 metres, including various compulsory purchases of properties.

We need to get on with the new hospital. Maybe the States should be looking for an alternative site as a contingency?
Posted by Paul Troalic on
This is complete madness.
Here we have a site, Overdale, that is blighted by its lack of access.
Clever Senator Farnham is deliberately forcing the hand of the States by not providing a proper schematic of the proposed alterations to Westmount road. Anyone with a decent software package could do this. But he won't allow it to be done because he knows the states members will see the error of their ways. It is not a suitable location for the New Hospital.
And the exit route from Overdale is even worse. Turn left and you are on the ridiculous Tower road , turn right and you have any number of obstacles to overcome. Did someone really say that New St John's road is a suitable road back into town?
For goodness sakes States members bite the bullet and get them to rethink Overdale as the preferred location.
Posted by Private Individual on
Well said Mr. Troalic, I could not have said it better myself.

But I will reiterate that the hospital is being built in the wrong place, period.
Posted by Steven Simon on
I’d like to build a couple of houses. Can I write to planning with my intentions? I’ll say if you approve the houses first then I shall submit plans? I doubt it. SOJ just do what they want.
Posted by Keith Marsh on
Whilst I agree with Overdale as being the site of the new hospital, are certain Ministers thinking what they say goes ?
To expect the States to sanction the changes to Westmount road without good plans and a real idea of what the area will look like once completed, is utter MADNESS.
This request must be defeated.
Posted by Jon Jon on
Absolutely crazy but unfortunately we have crazy politicians in charge who like it or not will still go ahead on Overdale.It amazed me when the granite wall to one field was taken down during last year and steel fencing erected.Ive also been told part of the crematorium garden will be dug up.
The cost of this site nearly a billion,this government is putting this island into major debt that maybe we will never get out of.
Posted by IanSmith97 on
Bruce, I read the Jersey Care Model document. We should all be very afraid.
Posted by Jean Lelliott on
I totally agree with Bruce Willing although I would be much happier if the road could just run from opposite Pet's Paradise than affect the West Park area.

Jon Jon, there is no intention, nor has there ever been any intention, of digging up the crematorium garden. Wherever you got that from it is complete nonsense.

Ian Smith - yes, very very afraid of the Jersey Care Model.
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