The Health Minister has admitted he “wasn’t at all confident” that plans for the £800m new hospital would be approved.
At lunchtime yesterday, Environment Minister John Young gave the project the green light, agreeing with independent planning inspector Philip Staddon that it should be passed.
The granting of planning permission for the new hospital was unsurprisingly warmly welcomed by the politicians leading the project – but others took a different view.
After the key decision, Express spoke to the project’s main supporters and opponents…
Senator Lyndon Farnham, who had political responsibility for the Our Hospital project, said: “I warmly welcome the decision and would like to extend my thanks to all who have been involved in bringing the project successfully to this point.
“Jersey’s new hospital is an essential investment in our medical infrastructure and will provide the very best modern, fully flexible healthcare facilities located at Overdale, which has served Islanders for generations as a hospital campus.
Pictured: Senator Lyndon Farnham said that the inspector's report "dispelled a lot of myths and conjecture".
“This decision now clears the path for the next phase of the project, which is to build the hospital and deliver it on time and in budget to be fully operational by December 2026.”
He added: “It was a very positive inspector’s report, which dispelled a lot of the myths and conjecture that have been knocking about for the last year.
“Let’s all get behind this and move the island forward.”
Health Minister Richard Renouf, who is not running for election again, said: “I wasn’t at all confident that it would be passed because we understood the significant opposition to it and realised the planning challenges.
“At the end of the day, the hospital will be built and it is a huge investment in the health of islanders. It is also something we desperately need."
Pictured: Deputy Renouf said he "wasn't at all confident" the application would be passed.
He continued: “We all know that there isn’t a site that doesn’t present challenges, but we had to select one and proceed for the good of the island. We would never find a perfect site because one doesn’t exist.
“Now, we must try to come together to deliver this hospital. We also need to move on from what is will look like and where it will go to what services will be delivered from it.
“This a great step forward."
Environment Minister John Young said: “In his report, the planning inspector reminds us that there was no stand-out perfect site which meets all the clinical needs on the scale required.
“The States have already made the decision that Overdale is the site that best meets those clinical needs.
Referring to the recommendation for refusal by his own Planning officers, Deputy Young said: “I think it was really important that all the impacts were properly put to the planning inspector. But someone had to make a decision, which in this case was me, and the planning decision is designed to strike the right balance.
He added: “I think the planning inspector got it right, and if people are able to read his full report, I believe they would agree with me.”
However, clearly not everyone welcomed the decision.
Michael de la Haye OBE, a former Greffier of the States, who made a submission to the planning inquiry, said: “The Minister’s decision is clearly disappointing for those of us who remain of the view that the current proposal for the new Hospital at Overdale is inappropriate in this prominent location in the Green Backdrop Zone, although it is understandable that the Minister made this decision in view of the fact that the planning inspector recommended approval.
“The fact that planning permission has been granted before the election means that all candidates will now need to explain during their campaigns whether or not they will support the borrowing of the significant funds required for this project or whether they believe that there is a cheaper and better way to deliver the new healthcare facilities that are so clearly needed in the island.”
Peter Funk, Interim Chair of Friends of Our New Hospital, said: “We agree that we need a new hospital; however, we disagree that it should be built at Overdale, we disagree with its size and we disagree with the analysis of costs, as the final amount will be far north of £800m.
"We also think that, in the current environment, the interest on debt will be far higher than the 2% the Government hopes it will secure.
"There is a financial risk, there is a building risk and there is a damaging impact on the environment."
Pictured: Interim Chair of Friends of Our New Hospital, Peter Funk.
He added: "We also feel that the justification given by the Environment Minister – that the community interest supersedes the concerns of his own department, as well as numerous policies in the Bridging Island Plan – is wrong.
"Does that mean that it’s right to concrete over St Aubin’s Bay or build a 20-storey tower if it’s in the community’s interest? It is a specious argument.
"We also have an underlying concern that the Planning Committee’s refusal of the application to demolish the existing buildings at Overdale is outstanding and is being appealed by IHE.
“That will not be resolved in a hurry and leaves the situation in limbo until it is.
“The politicians who have backed the new hospital will also have to answer to the electorate next month, and they will have to justify why spending more than £1 billion on a building which is too big for the site is a good idea.”
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