Hospital staff to be housed in high-rise?
A HIGH-RISE residential care home which closed last month due to fire safety concerns could become housing for frontline hospital staff, St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft has suggested.
The future of St Helier House, which is owned by the parish, will be voted on by parishioners following a public consultation which is due to get under way in March, Mr Crowcroft said.
Parishioners are being invited to share their ideas for the use of the site, with Mr Crowcroft suggesting that the building could be refurbished to create accommodation for doctors and nurses or demolished to make way for a new care home.
‘There has been on social media the assumption that the parish will sell it off for luxury flats,’ he said. ‘That is an assumption I would challenge.
‘I’ve had no discussion about the future of the building. It is entirely a matter for consultation with parishioners.’
Last September, following an inspection carried out in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, Jersey Fire and Rescue Service said St Helier House’s Fire Safety Certificate would not be renewed in March 2019 unless significant changes were made to the building. Among the issues highlighted was the ‘combustible nature’ of the 23-year-old cladding on the building. The cladding is different to Grenfell.
Since the last residents left the home, hoardings have been put up and work undertaken to ensure that the building is windproof and watertight.
Mr Crowcroft said that now the home had closed the process of discussing its future could begin as the parish ‘did not want to have buildings empty for long periods of time’.
‘My personal view is that given its location – it is a very convenient location close to town and the amenities of Cheapside – it would lend itself to a social or community purpose,’ he said.
‘Once the combustible cladding has been removed and any other issues addressed the building could be repurposed.’
When the safety issues were raised last year the parish said it would spend £30,000 on the building to ensure residents’ safety but announced that it planned to close the facility no later than the March 2019 date due to the cost of ‘additional works required to ensure compliance with modern safety regualtions’.
Mr Crowcroft said that providing accommodation for doctors and nurses ‘is clearly an idea’.
‘That is something that could be achieved by a major refurb,’ he said. ‘That is not the kind of work we can do when people are there. The home had to be closed for that to happen.
‘I’m not assuming that the parish would have to pay that money. If the States decided they needed that accommodation for their frontline staff in the Hospital then discussions could proceed with the States as to how that could be paid for and what the return to parishioners would be.’
Mr Crowcroft also said creating another nursing home on the site was another possibility, although added ‘it would need a rebuild to do that’.
Following the announcement last year it emerged that up to 38 jobs were at risk across both St Helier House and the only other parish home St Ewold’s, as the redundancies could affect both sites.
Mr Crowcroft said ‘we are doing everything we can to minimise any redundancy’.
‘We are still in the process of discussing their [the staff’s] future with them,’ he added. ‘We are doing everything we can to provide alternative work within the parish where we can for the people that won’t have a job.’