Hospital plans fail to gain support of Planning Department

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A MULTI-MILLION pound plan to build a new hospital at Overdale has failed to gain the support of the Planning Department.

In a letter to the planned public inquiry, due to begin on 4 April, officers from the unit said the scheme currently did not comply with several policies within the proposed Bridging Island Plan which could come into force within weeks.

Among some of the concerns raised were the quality of design, the height of the building, the impact on the ‘green backdrop zone’ and the manner in which it would change the skyline. The letter also cited the impact the development could have on a part of the site which is situated within the green zone.

Officers also claim that despite an emphasis within the Bridging Island Plan for the new hospital to be built at Overdale, this assumption is reliant on three criteria which, they claim, are not met by the current scheme.

Setting these out, the letter says: ‘First, that proposals do not cause serious, unacceptable harm to the character and amenity of the wider area or neighbouring uses.

Second, that it has been demonstrated that the proposals represent the best design option, relative to the clinical needs and the land available. Third, that the proposal includes details of all necessary mitigation measures required to manage its impact,’ the letter said.

It added: ‘Taking these requirements in turn, the department considers that the proposals do cause serious, unacceptable harm to the character and amenity of the wider area and neighbouring uses.’

Later in the letter, officers praise certain aspects of the proposed development including an improvement in clinical and mental health services, the creation of fit-for-purpose facilities and the reduction in risk to patients, compared to using the current facilities. But it says, these benefits do not outweigh the potential harm the development could cause.

‘The department cannot escape the conclusion that this proposal would result in serious unacceptable harm to the character of the site, its immediate surrounding area and, indeed, large areas of the south coast, from where the proposals would be clearly visible. The proposed architectural design, even when combined with the landscaping proposals, does little to mitigate this harmful impact.

‘In addition, the proposed development would entirely remove two listed buildings, an Area of Archaeological Potential, and would cause significant harm to the settings of other heritage assets,’ officers said in their letter.

They added: ‘It is the role of the [planning Inspector] to weigh the benefits and harms of the proposal and to form a recommendation to the minister. Taken in the round, the department concludes that the harms which have been identified are so great that they would outweigh even the very significant benefits generated by the proposal. With regret, the application cannot be supported.’

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