The Government has confirmed it no longer plans to demolish Victoria Park toilets to make way for the future hospital highway, after being called out for trying to do so without Parish permission.
The comments from the St. Helier Roads Committee as members finalised their submission to the Our Hospital team on the plans for the access route up Westmount Road yesterday.
During a meeting of the committee on Wednesday, in what he said came as a "bit of a shock", the Parish's Head of Infrastructure, Silvio Alves, read out plans to also demolish the substation part of the toilets, which is currently in Parish ownership.
Whilst the committee were aware that the Government wanted to compulsorily purchase the listed park, which would result in the "historic walls around the park being demolished", they said both the substation and the toilets were not part of this.
Pictured: An initial mockup of the changes to Victoria Park from when the hospital designs were announced in September.
The Parish commented that "the drawings have shown demolition/removal of the substation structure which forms part of Victoria Park toilets which is in Parish ownership" and that "this has not been agreed or discussed with the Parish and does not form part of the compulsory purchase order schedule by Government."
At the meeting, Constable Simon Crowcroft added: "There's a huge leviathan of officialdom wanting such things as to knock down a building that they haven't even asked to buy - it's quite extraordinary."
However, following queries from Express, a spokesperson for the Our Hospital Project said the plans had been flushed down the drain.
“The masterplan drawings are in the process of being updated to preserve the toilet block within Victoria Park. The separate electricity substation is redundant and there may be an opportunity to remove this, subject to agreement from the Parish of St Helier,” they said.
The overall plans for the Victoria Park area were contended in the meeting too, with the committee noting that the planned crossing for the site doesn't line up with the park and Mr Alves saying that the drawings of the moved Petanque courts "don't seem to tie up."
Following conversation on the Petanque courts, Constable Crowcroft added that the "the whole proposal for this area is an unnecessary loss of open space and unnecessary loss of public facilities."
Now the meeting is concluded, the Parish will formally make their submission on the Our Hospital project, which will be analysed – along with all plans, supporting documents and public comments – by an independent planning inspector in March and April.
It was a meeting that saw announcements, approvals, suggestions and concerns raised about the Our Hospital road access, including the following.
It was announced that Senator Lyndon Farnham had written a letter on Monday to Constable Crowcroft both conceding there would be scope for a two-way cycle path up Westmount Hill.
"It will be a standard width path and, as with other facilities of this kind, cyclists will be able to choose how they travel on it. While cyclists will be advised to travel downhill on the road if possible, slower cyclists, children or other users would not be prevented from using the path," he wrote.
Pictured: The committee approved Senator Farnham's concession of a two way cycle path up Westmount, but warned that the absence of a cycling strategy could lead to irresponsible cycling.
Whilst there was opposition from one member of the committee, Ted Vibert, who said it was the "most irresponsible action this committee could make" and highlighted possible dangers, the rest of the committee endorsed the new arrangement for the two-way system.
However, Constable Crowcroft added they would flag up they were "concerned that in absence of a cycling strategy from the Government, this may well lead to irresponsible cycling and accidents."
A lack of advice from Government in regard to transport was called out throughout the meeting, with the Constable citing a "lack of a walking and cycling strategy."
Senator Farnham's letter also confirmed that the northern access to Westmount Road would allow a left turn into Tower Road, so islanders travelling from the north can turn in from Queen's Road and Old St John's Road.
It came after the committee had raised concerns that there was "no clear justification given" as to why cars couldn't be able to do so.
Senator Farnham added that the Political Oversight Group working on the hospital project was also supportive to access of the hospital site "from the right-hand turn from Tower Road, as well as the left-hand turn into Tower Road to the west," and said that the Roads Committee could formally request this change as part of their response.
Constable Crowcroft said this was a concession from Government the Parish would be "quite happy to endorse", but also highlighted that it could do with some detail as to how far down cars will be able to go down on this route, and whether they will be able to continue down Westmount into St. Helier.
One idea the committee agreed on recommending in their submission is that instead of the current 10% of car spaces with electric charging in the plan, 100% of car parking spaces and motorcycle spaces on the site should require the chargers to "future proof" the site.
Pictured: The committee are asking that 100% of the new hospital's parking be equipped with charging facilities.
Committee member and St. Helier Procureur, Geraint Jennings, made the point that petrol and diesel vehicles will eventually be "phased out" under the Government's current sustainable transport plans.
In general, Constable Crowcroft and the committee said they felt there wasn't enough planning for green transport in the new hospital and highway plans.
In terms of research and planning, the committee also pointed out the study area for traffic impact was limited. In draft comments for the planning application, they had requested it be extended further to the East and West of the Parish.
Though they acknowledged the time had now passed to request the study area be expanded, they still expressed a desire to highlight how the new Westmount highway could impact wider traffic in town.
"The committee can't say with any confidence there can't be traffic chaos resulting from the proposal," the Constable said.
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