The Environment Minister has given 'conditional approval' to building Jersey's new hospital at Overdale.
It's after the independent planning inspector said the positives outweigh the harms.
Philip Staddon twice previously rejected applications for the hospital to to be built on the current Gloucester Street site.
Overdale was chosen in late 2020, with that application submitted last November.
Those harms include the scale of the building that will permanently change the skyline and the loss of heritage, agricultural land, homes, and other buildings.
But Mr. Staddon says the vast majority of Bridging Island Plan policies are complied with, whereby the identified harm is demonstrably outweighed by the public and community benefit of the new hospital.
"Importantly, the proposal would deliver the much needed new hospital in line with policy CI3 which has been afforded the highest level of priority. I have assessed that, subject to planning conditions and obligations, all of the policy CI3 criteria have been met and that the proposal would deliver an undisputedly high quality healthcare campus, with contemporary buildings in an attractive landscaped setting, which would enable patients, visitors and staff to enjoy a very high quality environment.
In my overall assessment I find that the positives, in terms of policy compliance and major public benefits, outweigh the harms and policy tensions. I do not understate or downplay the harms and tensions against some policies, and I respect the views of those that have expressed opposition to the scheme, and have presented good arguments and evidence. However, this is a plan-led development and the plan-led conclusion of my assessment is not without consequence. It is a fact that a CI3 compliant development proposal was always likely to have the adverse effects and impacts that I have identified, given the nature of this once in a generation development proposal.
Accepting the importance and imperative of delivering the hospital on this allocated site, the key overarching test is whether the application proposal represents the very best proposal in planning terms when considered ‘in the round’. My conclusion is that it does and that, when considered against the BIP holistically, and notwithstanding some acknowledged and identified tensions with certain policies, it accords with the plan as a whole.
I recommend that the Minister grants planning permission, subject to recommended planning conditions and to the applicant entering a Planning Obligations Agreement."
The planning conditions are:
- Using reasonable endeavours to facilitate the timely and fully funded relocation of the Jersey Bowls Club to another site
- Making a proportionate financial contribution to the cost of implementing the West Park Surface Water Separation Scheme
- Securing the adaptation and adoption of any highways infrastructure needed to mitigate the impacts of the development.
- Establishing an appropriate bus service to and from the site
- Implementing a parking strategy
- Rescuing and implementing a travel plan
- Carrying out a post-implementation review, two years after the hospital opens, to identify any 'snagging' issues, local highways, amenity, or other unforeseen impacts.
The hospital complex will have five large buildings, which are accessed by a realigned Westmount Road.
There will be a mental health centre, energy centre, and knowledge centre.
Negotiations will now start with the government's design and delivery partner and plans will be finalised to move the current health services at Overdale to the old Les Quennevais School.
Senator Lyndon Farnham says it's a key moment for Jersey.
"I'm greatly relieved that we're going to, at long last, put in place proper health facilities and a new hospital for future generations of islanders because our existing health estate was coming under severe pressure and we couldn't continue to maintain it without significant risk to health.
Its been a very difficult and challenging three years and I want to say grateful thanks to the whole 'Our Hospital Project Team' for their perseverance.
I'm very pleased also that the inspector has produced a very positive report that praises many aspects of the project and I'm pleased about that because we've had to deal with a lot of public opinion and conjecture which I think has been addressed well by the inspector's report.
We have a really good project lined up."
I welcome the decision to approve the hospital planning application. This now clears the way for the next phase of the project to build the hospital and deliver it on time and within budget to be fully operational by December 2026. Grateful thanks to all involved. @OurHospitalJsy pic.twitter.com/l1jPIMTHta— Sen. Lyndon Farnham (@lyndonfarnham) May 17, 2022
The news has also been welcomed by Jersey's outgoing Health Minister.
Deputy Richard Renouf has called it 'the right decision.'
"I think this is a culmination of a lot of thorough work. It's supported by hospital staff and consultants as being the right option for us and it will deliver better healthcare for islanders so I'm really pleased it's a step towards it.
I hope that this means new States members will take it forward.
We just cannot continue without getting this built because the present hospital is just not going to serve its purpose and it's going to have staff hving poor health outcomes for islanders if we weren't to build a new hospital so we really must get on and do this."
The decision has by no means received overwhelming support.
The chair of Scrutiny has called the decision 'really disappointing'.
Senator Kristina Moore failed last year in an attempt to cut the budget of the project by £250million and cap borrowing at £400 million.
"This is signing us up to almost £1billion worth of expenditure on this project, of which as the scrutiny panel that I've been chairing found, the size and scale of the project is not justified.
The planning inspector's report says that he's made his decision, but hasn't had to take into account either the sustainability or the value for money of the project, so it's really too narrow to take such an important and expensive decision.
I'm reassured that the new Chief Executive has said that she will not be signing off any contracts until a new government is in place.
I want the Chief Minister to reassure the project that he will abide by that decision of the Chief Executive and I look forward to a new government being able to forge ahead with a realistic and achievable hospital project."