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States spent nearly £900k on restaurant site for 'rejected' hospital

States spent nearly £900k on restaurant site for 'rejected' hospital

Monday 04 February 2019

States spent nearly £900k on restaurant site for 'rejected' hospital

Monday 04 February 2019


Nearly £900,000 of taxpayers' money was spent on buying a restaurant site, which is now no longer likely to be needed to make way for the new hospital development, it has been revealed.

In total, the States spent £868,292 to purchase Aromas at 44 Kensington Palace to pave the way for renovations to the current hospital, including an increase in its overall footprint.

But it now seems unlikely that the new hospital will be built on its current site after the Environment Minister rejected a second planning application, and the Council of Ministers backing plans to take the current site off the table altogether and consider an alternative site.

Doing so means that a good portion of the money spent so far - over £41million up to December last year - will have to be 'written off'. New figures released under the Freedom of Information Law have suggested how much that is likely to be.

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Pictured: £41million was spent on the Future Hospital project up to 31 December 2018.

They show that the biggest bulk of the spending on the Future Hospital project, over £22.7million, went towards 'external advisors', which the hospital team described as "technical expertise".  This included hospital service plans, a review of the current hospital buildings condition and safety, site options appraisal reports as well as a legal and procurement advice, work with engineers and architects.

Over £2.6million has been spent since 2012 on salaries for the project team and overheads, with an extra £354,309 spent on office accommodation. 

Half a million was spent on pre-feasibility work, while £208,431 went towards exhibitions, community events, workshops and the Future Hospital website. The States also spent over £630,000 on planning fees - a figure which also included preparation for the two planning inquiries held into the now rejected development at the current site. 

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Pictured: The States spent £868,292 on buying Aromas restaurant premises and the apartment above it in the hope of expanding the current hospital site.

£13million was spent on renovating Samares Ward at Westmount Centre and on relocation works. This included the creation of a catering unit in St. Peter, refurbishment of the Limes accommodation for junior doctors, as well as the upgrade of current theatre storage capacity. 

Finally, the figures revealed that the States spent £868,292 on property advice and the purchase of 44 Kensington Place, home of Aromas restaurant and 'The Maisonette’The Infrastructure Minister approved a recommendation by Property Holdings to buy the restaurant last year - despite not yet having obtained planning permission for the development.

The Hospital team justified the expense, saying, "This is the cost of work to choose, plan and design a full service general hospital to NHS standards, and designed to serve Islanders until 2065, in line with the approvals of a previous States Assembly."

Video: Deputy Young announcing his decision.

While some of the groundwork will be useful wherever the hospital is built, some of the expenses incurred are likely to have been unnecessary now that the possibility of building the hospital on the current site appears close to being dead in the water.

In mid-January, The Environment Minister, Deputy John Young, rejected the hospital's second planning application. He said the decision had been a challenging one and that he had refused the application "reluctantly", adding: "As concluded by the Inspector, I believe this application site is not quite large enough to comfortably accommodate the proposed scheme. A different application may overcome these issues.”

Further doubt was cast over the plans when the Council of Ministers threw their support behind a proposition brought by Deputy Russell Labey to reject the States' previous decision to build on Gloucester Street

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Pictured: Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré said Ministers have not yet agreed an alternative site for the new hospital.

In a statement announcing the decision, Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré said: “Ministers have not yet agreed an alternative site for a new hospital. As has already been publicly identified, there will be a formal due diligence process which will be limited to a small number of sites.

“Given that a lot of work has already been done on such sites this should be a relatively short process. I also recognise the importance of engaging with hospital staff, the Parish of St. Helier, and other political representatives in the States Assembly.” 

Deputy Labey's call for the States Assembly to bring “clarity” to the long-running debate, and overturn plans to build the new £466m facility almost exactly where it currently stands, is due to be debated on 12 February.

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Pictured: Support is growing behind Overdale as an alternative site for the Future Hospital.

Meanwhile, support is growing for the development of alternative sites for the Future Hospital project including the Overdale site, as Express exclusively revealed earlier this month

Leading the charge is Assistant Chief Minister and Constable Chris Taylor, who led the panel behind an explosive report that exposed major deficiencies in the hospital site decision-making process, concluding that Overdale should be reconsidered as a location.

Constable Taylor said that the Overdale site, which includes many buildings that have fallen into disrepair, would be best used as the new general hospital. He told Express a dedicated access point could be constructed, from the area of King George V Cottage Homes, running through the valley directly behind it, to link the site directly to the inner road.

Video: Chris Taylor shared Overdale Hospital plans with Express in December.

The location would not only allow up to four storeys to be nestled out of view, apparently visible only from a few areas of St. Aubin, it would also offer patients sea views and access to green spaces – things which have been proven to assist with recovery, and could compliment the hospital’s current ‘end PJ paralysis’ campaign.

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