Read the letter below by the Health Minister, Senator Andrew Green, in response to a number of concerns raised by the campaign group, Save People’s or view the PDF version here.
Dear Christian / Committee of Save People’s Park
Re: Open Letter: Future Hospital – Site Selection
Thank you for your open letter, which I welcome the opportunity to respond to.
I will address each of the points you raise in turn:
1. a) Your Committee raised concern that the first image on the future hospital website was always People’s Park.
b) Your Committee queried why the options were not presented in alphabetical order on the website.
c) Your Committee raised a concern that the People’s Park development image appears first in pages shared on social media.
d) And that the Facebook profile being employed by the Project includes Peoples Park.
I can confirm that the website was originally conceived in November 2015 at a time when Ministers were planning to engage in a different way. This was based on the fact that the People’s Park appeared to be a strong contender, but this was always subject to compensatory regeneration proposals that were still in development. When the outcome of the regeneration work was received by the Council of Ministers on 27th January 2016, Ministers determined that four weeks of public engagement should be undertaken followed by two months of public consultation.
For this reason, the matters you have identified were not addressed in time for the launch on 2nd February, but this has now been corrected as follows:
a) Sites are now presented on the website in the order of the options A – E rather than in alphabetical order.
b) The site options are presented in the order of the options A – E rather than alphabetical order.
c) A picture of all five site options now appears and this will be shared on social media.
d) The project Facebook profile now includes a picture of all five site options.
e) Your Committee queried why on the Site Summary table the development of People’s Park was not flagged as not being in keeping with the Island Plan.
A one page table summary of over 1,000 pages of short-listed site assessment is always going to be difficult to do without upsetting supporters or objectors to one site or another.
There are many Policies in the Island Plan that will be relevant to the hospital development wherever it is located and it is quite right that all the shortlisted hospital sites should be considered against all of these Policies.
As regards the Public Open Space policy, the Island Plan is quite clear (at Policy SC04) that such areas can be developed if it is in the Island’s interest to do so or that adequate compensatory open space can be provided. We think that the People’s Park option presented meets both of those tests sufficiently to warrant its consideration by the Public in formal consultation.
This is not the same as in the case of the Waterfront site, which as the website makes clear, is the subject of supplementary planning guidance that is inconsistent with the proposed Option D development.
f) Your Committee asked why the table of costs was removed from the future hospital website.
I can confirm that the summary table was not removed but was re-represented as a link on the homepage, rather than as a table, as our communications advisors believed the table was not presented sufficiently clearly under the home page text.
2. In the letter you indicate that your Committee are concerned that the date People’s Park was first considered as a location for the hospital was not in July 2015 but was in 2014.
a) Your Committee asked when People’s Park was first considered as a site for a hospital.
I can confirm that in response to a request by the previous Planning Minister in 2012, People’s Park was reviewed as a location for an underground car park only to support an Overdale based hospital variant that was subsequently demonstrated as performing less well than the current option B.
However, no consideration of the Park as a site for the hospital occurred before the site was suggested in a Ministerial meeting in July 2015.
The reason the image of the whole hospital for the People’s Park Option E has coding dated 2014 is that that the hospital image was generated by the Project Team and overlaid on the Planning Authority’s 3D Model of St Helier which must have been generated then.
I can absolutely confirm that there was no consideration of People’s Park as a future hospital site in 2014.
b) Your Committee asked when the image for People’s Park formerly on the website was first developed and by whom.
I can confirm that the image was developed by Hassell Architects in September 2015, who are the Lead Designer and part of the Gleeds Management Services Team, in response to a request by the Project Team. Several earlier images of a notional People’s Park hospital were developed in August 2015 during the site screening process which required the test to fit of the site with a larger hospital to allow for future flexibility.
c) Your Committee asked when the image of People’s Park formerly on the website was uploaded onto the website or its former unpublished formats.
The website framework was conceived in November 2015, but work on the website by our appointed consultant did not commence until late December 2015. Low resolution and then high resolution images of People’s Park were uploaded to the website during January 2016 in preparation for the Council of Ministers considering the regeneration outcome.
3. Your Committee suggests there is a lack of detail provided in the proposals and made some requests.
I would respectfully explain that only notional designs have been developed at this stage in sufficient detail to establish the potential site implications but not to enable detailed analysis.
a) The total height of each proposed shortlisted site.
A modern hospital requires floor heights of approximately 4.5 metres to ensure adequate space for modern equipment and building services.
Therefore the height of the different options can be estimated from the floor areas provided on the website:
NB: Where there is the potential for additional height to be utilised within the likely height restriction of the site this has been identified in the key features of the site summary to indicate that this may be the height of the resulting building and this may have caused your Committee confusion. However, I stress that the indicated height is the one that has been costed and assessed.
b) Your Committee requested the total floor area of each shortlisted site is, as follows.
Following extensive review of the current and projected service activity in the future hospital, indicative target area was set for all new build sites. A larger target area was set for the Dual site to reflect some unavoidable duplication between the sites. The Design Team then attempted to achieve a design as close to the target area as possible. Clearly, given the differing configuration of the site options this could never exactly match the target, and is in any case, at this stage only an indicative design.
c) Your Committee requested the total floor area of each hospital department. The indicative departmental area for each hospital department for the new build options is attached as Appendix 1.
4. Your Committee suggests that all of the shortlisted site images have a perspective from a street elevation except for Option E People’s Park.
This is correct and was due to the previously generated street level image not being preferred by the Project Board, not because of any bias on their or Ministers part. This has now been corrected on the website and public engagement materials.
Your Committee asked for images of views from three specific properties in the immediate area with respect to light and scale.
As explained above, notional images only have been developed for the five shortlisted sites.
Simple “sketch up” 3D models have been prepared to aid Ministerial understanding, but these are not in a form or quality suitable to share publicly or to address this query.
To generate the views requested by the Committee would also mean that similar views would have to be generated for all of the five shortlisted sites. This would not be possible in the current engagement period.
Public concern over the cost of the site selection process means Ministers do not think this is necessary at this stage, but may consider it for the consultation to follow.
5. Your Committee requested a breakdown of costs of various different elements of the People’s Park option.
The costs relating to the Future Hospital have been developed by professional quantity surveyors within the Gleeds Management Services design team with the support of their on-Island Project Management, Planning and Engineering advisors. They have been developed in accordance with established international good practice for hospital development and guidance developed by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
Your Committee may appreciate that the breakdown of costs is commercially confidential and the public release of this information could significantly and detrimentally affect subsequent procurement in relation to the Future Hospital.
For these reasons, the breakdown of costs is being made available to the relevant political Scrutiny Panels and their advisors and to your States Members under appropriate confidentiality agreements, but will not be made public.
6. Your Committee queried whether clear details of compensatory space proposed had been provided. Should Option E People’s Park be confirmed as the Preferred Option, I can confirm that:
a) It would be necessary to procure the Stafford and Revere hotels and some adjoining properties in Kensington Place;
b) Appropriate legal agreements would be put in place to ensure that promised compensatory parks were delivered for public use;
c) At high level, and based upon indicative development plans, it has been estimated that it would take between 2 and 3 years to demolish the current hospital and re-provide the Parade Grounds Park once the Option E hospital had become operational.
d) The proposed compensatory Gas Place park would be available prior to development commencing at People’s Park.
I appreciate and apologise for the fact that, in our haste to get the information before the public as soon as possible, some of the information presented on the website was not as clear as it could have been. This has now been rectified.
The intention is to provide all the necessary information to assist the public in considering the options for a future hospital, as long as this does not damage the public interest.
I, and my fellow Ministers, very much want to understand the full nature of your concerns so this can inform the States Assembly debates to come. I very much hope that this exchange will be followed by further constructive engagement which will help in enabling a rounded decision to be made.
This will hopefully start with a constructive public debate this Thursday 11th February, at the St Helier Town Hall. I look forward to hearing more from your Committee then or at the many other public meetings and “drop-ins” we have advertised on the futurehospital.je website.
Senator Andrew Green MBE
Minister for Health and Social Services