Simon Crowcroft will lead the fight in the States to prevent the new hospital being built on the People’s Park but he warned that the other shortlisted option – Overdale – could also fall foul of last year’s States decision to protect St Helier’s green spaces.
‘I was told things about Overdale which I’m not at liberty to talk about because I was told in confidence but, when the public realise the full cost to the environment of building at Overdale, they will realise that it’s not such a simple solution,’ he said.
Mr Crowcroft accused the Council of Ministers of being ‘naive’ in devising a process to identify the hospital site which did not take account of last year’s decision not to build on ‘the People’s Park, Lower Park, Victoria Park, Westmount Gardens or Parade Gardens, in St Helier’, an amendment which the Constable himself brought to the proposition finally abandoning the redevelopment of the hospital’s present Gloucester Street site.
In what he describes as ‘a battle royale’, Mr Crowcroft said that the Council of Ministers would have to bring a proposition rescinding that previous decision, irrespective of which of the two sites they ultimately want to progress.
‘Building on Overdale will impact on the parish’s woodlands – not as much as the People’s Park but it will still have an impact, so they are going to have to bring the [rescindment] motion but they should have done it before because, if they lose it, all that work will have been wasted. They’ll have to go back to the drawing board,’ he said.
Mr Crowcroft expressed his frustration at having to resume the struggle to protect green space in St Helier after public protests against building on the People’s Park and his successful amendment – won by just two votes – to keep the hospital away from the capital’s green sites.
‘If this was the only site that would be one thing but there’s no question that, while people might not like it, the hospital could go out of town and one thing that bothers me about the choice being whittled down to two sites so close together, affecting the town centre, is that the States and the public aren’t having the chance to assess the benefits and non-benefits of an out-of-town site such as Five Oaks, or Millbrook or, further away, Warwick Farm or St Saviour’s Hospital – they’re not having a chance to talk about that,’ he said.
Mr Crowcroft’s main focus is to prevent building on the People’s Park and he did not rule out the prospect of giving his support to the Overdale site depending on the extent of what he described as ‘the collateral damage’ to the environment. However, he expressed concern that the likely additional cost of building work there could be used to persuade some States Members to support the loss of the park.
‘Personally, I think that Overdale has the advantage that it’s high up. I don’t have a problem with being able to see a hospital. It’s not a bad building to see – it’s comforting to know that you’ve got a hospital gleaming there at night. I don’t have a problem from a planning point of view: it’s a question of how much green space they are going to carve away,’ he said.