With Jersey's new hospital project now into its second decade, this week revealed yet another major turning point.
Yesterday, the Minister reviewing the - already approved - £804.5m plans said they were no longer financially viable.
Deputy Tom Binet's announcement was met with disbelief by the politician who was previously leading the project, Deputy Lyndon Farnham, who described Deputy Binet as "uninformed and inexperienced," and warned a u-turn on the project could only be sanctioned by the full States Assembly.
So what's changed? Here, Express explores Deputy Binet surprise announcement in more depth.
The current infrastructure Minister is essentially saying that the next General Hospital could be built in sections over time rather all at once, as previously planned.
It could also be built on two sites, with the Government cancelling a contract between its social housing provider Andium Homes and developer Dandara to build homes on the former Revere and Stafford hotels in Kensington Place.
It leaves the space available for the current hospital to expand into, if that option is chosen.
Islanders now know, however, that the Our Hospital project will not go ahead as per existing plans, which were approved in May after an independent planning inspector recommended that they be passed after a public inquiry.
They also now know that only building at Overdale and / or redeveloping the existing hospital in Gloucester Street is on the cards.
Ministers have said that they will not hold another site selection process, meaning that a new hospital will not be built at Warwick Farm or on The People’s Park, which both made the previous shortlist.
Pictured: Previous plans to build a hospital on the People's Park will not be revisited as part of Deputy Binet's review.
Infrastructure Minister Tom Binet is reviewing the project and will report back to the States Assembly with recommendations before 20 October.
However, he said this week that the funding mechanism behind the £804.5m project was broken because the global economic situation had made the health campus unaffordable.
“Everyone can expect to be disappointed, be it moderately or very, because the promise of an all-new, all-singing hospital, all built in one place at the same time is no longer possible,” he said. “I will be open in saying that whatever we now choose will be the best worst option.”
He added: “If it were to stay at Overdale, you can sure that the plans will have to be amended, because it won’t have the previous full scope. If a decision is taken to develop elsewhere, which may be a sectioned approach over a period of time, that would require planning permission as well.
“That is why we are pushing this forward as quickly as we can.”
To keep options open, the Government is taking control of the Kensington Street site, which Andium Homes bought for £7.8m in December 2021 to build 106 flats, which have planning permission.
Pictured: The Government has instructed Andium Homes to halt work on its Kensington Street site.
Deputy Binet said: “Cancelling the contract at Kensington Place does not mean that we will be building something there.
“If it did, we wouldn’t be having a review and would simply be announcing that we are building something in Kensington Place.
“What we have had to do, which is regrettable in many ways, is to ensure that if we are having a review, at least we have something to have a review about.
“If the construction would have proceeded as planned, it would have taken Gloucester Street out of the frame, because it is a key component of the development of that site.”
The Infrastructure Minister said the Government would soon issue a planning permit for the Overdale site. It would not mean, however, the work on the Our Hospital project would begin.
“There has been a long-running process to obtain the planning permit,” he said. “The advice is that we are so close to achieving that, there is no money to be saved in not finalising the process.
“Like any development, if you have a passed plan, it leaves you in a much better position going forward, if you want to build something alternative on the site, be that a slightly reduced hospital or anything else.
“If you have an existing plan for a site, it stands you in better stead with the planners. It also proves to external players that the Government has got to the planning permit stage.”
Deputy Binet denied that, with the funding plans redundant, the actual plans would be completely redundant too.
“Work has gone into each section of that planned hospital and a lot of that could be lifted and reused, either at Overdale or Gloucester Street," he said.
“It is only those two which are in contention; we are certainly not revisiting the site selection process. It would be fatal for a number of reasons.”
Pictured: Designs for the £804.5m hospital have now been fully developed.
He added: “I think the plans have just been completed to RIBA Stage 3 [when the design is fully developed] and there might be some very useful information there that can be lifted or overlayed onto other sets of plans.
“I would contend that you are not wasting money. If you simply cannot afford what you have a permit for, you are not wasting any money by not building it; you simply cannot build it. That needs to be understood from the outset.
“This is not a great situation for anybody and I cannot expect anybody to be delighted. We have not got control over world events; we can’t change the fact that there is ten per cent inflation or that Ukraine has been invaded and all the supply chains have been altered.
“These are the harsh realities of life that we have to face head on.”
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