‘Jersey deserves better than this tower block for the sick’

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Christopher McCarthy says he resigned from his position as the sustainable commissioner for the Jersey Architecture Commission – an independent advisory group – so that he could object to the proposals.

He is now calling on Islanders who feel the same to speak out as well because he says that Jersey deserves better than the nine-storey ‘tower block monstrosity’ currently being proposed.

Mr McCarthy, who is based in the UK and has almost 40 years’ experience in design in the built environment, including of working on a number of healthcare projects, is due in the Island next month.

He plans to host a meeting at which alternative ideas for the new hospital – including revisiting the Waterfront and Overdale as possible sites – can be explored.

He also intends to object to the plans at the public inquiry into the planning application, led by independent planning inspector Philip Staddon, which is due to start on 6 November.

‘We have got to prepare people for that meeting and give them some encouragement so that they feel they can join in,’ he said.

‘This is the community’s last chance to be heard.’

Mr McCarthy is particularly passionate about the need to draw on ‘biophilia’ – which suggests that humans look for, and can benefit from, connections with nature – to inform the plans for the new facility.

The new hospital, as proposed in outline plans lodged earlier this year, does not, he says, have the room to provide healing gardens and the link to nature that staff and patients can benefit from. He said that the gardens at Jersey Hospice Care were a good example of where this approach can work well.

Mr McCarthy now plans to encourage potential election candidates standing for the States in May to support a vision for Jersey based on biophilia principles which will highlight the importance of locally produced super foods, natural remedies and new biotech enterprises which he says could ‘springboard’ from the Island’s international farming and fishing achievements.

His other concerns about the hospital plans include the height of the proposed block, the risk of flooding in the area, and the fact that the new building will be ‘wrapped around air pollution’ from Patriotic Street car park. He said: ‘A new exemplary biophilia hospital with healing gardens on either the Waterfront or Overdale site will provide an enormous social, environmental and economic return from the £450 million hospital investment the ministers are about to commit future generations to pay to build and operate.’

Mr McCarthy, who set up Battle McCarthy Consulting Engineers and Landscape Architects, was involved in developing Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, which cost £75 million to build and draws on some of the links with nature that he believes could work in Jersey. It also uses circular wards to ensure patients are easily visible by staff who are located in the centre, another concept he says that Jersey should be considering.

‘Jersey deserves better than the proposed hospital tower block for the sick,’ he said. ‘The intentions are good but I think it has lost its way.’

He added that going back to the drawing board did not have to delay the project or cost money as sustainability reviews could be carried out quickly on the two other sites and that a revised design on a different site would mean savings in long-term running costs.

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