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POD: Minister 'disappointed' hospital advice may not have been followed

POD: Minister 'disappointed' hospital advice may not have been followed

Friday 11 March 2022

POD: Minister 'disappointed' hospital advice may not have been followed

Friday 11 March 2022


The Minister who will have the final say on whether an £800m new hospital will be built at Overdale has expressed "disappointment" that planning officers' advice may not have been followed.

Speaking on Express's Politics Disassembled podcast this week, Deputy John Young said he would listen carefully to the forthcoming report from the independent Planning Inspector's inquiry, and read all the evidence submissions.

Earlier this month, the Government's own Planning Department recommended that the application to build an £800m new hospital at Overdale is rejected

A week-long inquiry begins on the 4 April, after which the Planning Inspector, Philip Staddon, will make a recommendation to the Environment Minister on whether the application should be approved or rejected. 

Speaking to Express, Environment Minister Deputy Young said he would once again consider the Inspector's view carefully. However, he noted that he was disappointed that it seems his officers' advice might not have been followed.

"I will make that judgement when I see what the report has to say, there are lots of factors which I will bear in mind, its probably the most difficult decision that any elected member has to make," he said.

"I want to see how the inquiry goes... I have to say, though, it is disappointing that it looks as if advice that was put forward may not have been taken on board, because the normal advice, if you do a private application and you go to the planning officers and they give you advice, well you know very well that if you follow their advice, you stand a very good chance of getting your approvals." 

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Pictured: Planning Inspector Philip Staddon begins his inquiry on the 4 April. 

Deputy Young has already rejected an application for a new hospital in 2019, when the cost stood at £466m - that was the second application. The first was rejected the year before by the previous Minister, Deputy Steve Luce. 

Earlier this month, In a major development to the long-running saga, senior planning officials concluded that the current proposal's harms are "so great" that they outweigh "even the very significant benefits generated by the proposal."

Chris Jones, the Senior Planning Officer charged with reviewing all evidence and making a recommendation to be considered by the planning inspector, and ultimately the Environment Minister, found that the application would result in “serious unacceptable harm to the character of the site, its immediate surrounding area and, indeed, large areas of the south coast.”

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Pictured: Earlier this month, Senior Planning Officials published their comments, which didn't support the Overdale application. 

Specific concerns include:

  • the development “fails to demonstrate a high quality of design which conserves, protects and contributes positively to the distinctiveness of the landscape and wider setting of the site”;

  • the height and scale of the proposal, and its dominant impact on the skyline. Proposed landscaping and planting will fail to mitigate against this;

  • it does not meet key tests set out in a specific policy relating to the new hospital included in the draft Bridging Island Plan. This includes demonstrating that “the proposed development represents the best design option relative to be needs of the hospital and the land available”; 

  • the location means that there will be too much reliance on car journeys and it will be difficult to access for those wishing to use alternative methods of transport;

  • the application fails to include solutions for surface water drainage, the replacement of the Jersey Bowls Club or the replacement of the 12 homes which will be lost.

In a further blow to the project, the Government's Historic Environment team has said it "offers the strongest objection" to the plans.

This is because of the "mass, scale, quantum and significance of the development on this highly visible hilltop location which would require the demolition of two designated listed buildings and detrimentally impact the setting of many others."

Despite this setback, the Government says it is confident that it will prevail, and the hospital will be built, as proposed, at Overdale.

Senator Lyndon Farnham, who chairs of the Our Hospital Political Oversight Group, said: “We note the view of the Planning Department, which highlights the challenges inherent in building a new hospital for Jersey.

“We will be making a full and detailed representation to the independent planning inspector at next month’s public inquiry, where we will demonstrate that the benefits of this new hospital far outweigh the potential impacts. 

“We remain committed to delivering the new hospital on time and within budget on the Overdale site, which was approved by a vote of the States Assembly.”

The week-long planning inquiry, led by inspector Philip Staddon, will start on Monday 4 April. He will review hundreds of documents, submissions and comments, including more than 100 from the public, and make a recommendation to Deputy John Young by 13 May.

The Government hopes that the £804.5m hospital will be open in 2026.

READ MORE...

Planning says £800m hospital should be rejected

FOCUS: Why Planning is saying NO to the £800m hospital plans

Gov to fight for Overdale despite thumbs down from Planning

LISTEN...

Express spoke to Deputy John Young, Jersey's Environment Minister...

Politics Disassembled: The Man with the Plan

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