‘I needed to end the uncertainty’

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THE Environment Minister has admitted that making the decision to grant planning permission for the new hospital was an ‘onerous responsibility’, but he felt it was important to end some of the uncertainty around the project.

Deputy John Young said that after receiving the report of independent inspector Philip Staddon on Wednesday 11 May he had spent several days analysing it closely before coming to his decision.

He said: ‘What made a big difference to me was that the report was very comprehensive and the inspector was very, very clear-cut in his recommendations.

‘There was no equivocation and no area which opened up an avenue to make any decision other than the one that I did – this process has been dogged by planning uncertainty and I needed to end that.’

Deputy Young added that he had taken on the recommendations made by Mr Staddon regarding conditions which formed part of the planning permission, and that in some cases he had sought to further strengthen these safeguards by insisting they formed part of legally-binding planning obligation agreements.

‘There are some areas, such as landscaping, where there is an agreement that applies until the end of the project and cannot be adjusted or scaled back at a later date,’ he said.

While he conceded that some new Members might wish to review the project after next month’s general election, he maintained that making the decision on planning permission was an important and correct course to take.

Deputy Young refused permission for a previous application for the redevelopment of the existing Hospital site at Gloucester Street.

He admitted that the impact of further delay brought by another failed planning application would have been ‘absolutely catastrophic’. But in making this week’s decision, he said he agreed with Mr Staddon’s view that the overall benefits of the Overdale application outweighed the harm.

He said: ‘The scale of the project resulted from clinical needs, and the evidence was overwhelming that there is a desperate need for a new hospital.

‘There’s no site that’s devoid of planning issues and would not cause any effects.’

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