‘Where is the commitment?’

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MEMBERS of St Helier’s Roads Committee convened yesterday to consider their feedback on plans for the new hospital.

The panel, which is the only parochial board of its kind to sit in public, discussed a number of matters during the session including cycling, traffic, the potential loss of trees, buildings and the Jersey Bowling Club.

Concerns were also raised about the alleged lack of forward-thinking in the proposed designs, with members claiming that just a fraction of parking spaces at the proposed new facility were due to include electric charging points.

This was, the committee said, despite the fact that new petrol and diesel cars could be banned from being registered from 2030.

The board also raised issues with the proposed replacement of trees that would need to be moved to facilitate the new development. Members claimed that the majority of these were likely to be planted around the hospital site itself rather than on land currently owned by the parish.

– Bridging Island Plan

During the meeting, committee member John Baker asked whether UK planning inspector Philip Staddon would be considering the hospital plans against the existing Island Plan or the Bridging Island Plan, which is due to be debated by the States Assembly later this year.

‘That draft Bridging Island Plan has a section which talks about the delivery of Our Hospital and the Jersey Care Model and it proposes that Overdale be designated the hospital site.

‘So anything we say, which is based on the current Island Plan, could be overruled by the planning inspector who says that the [new] plan designates Overdale as the hospital site and therefore has priority,’ Mr Baker said.

Responding, Constable Simon Crowcroft said: ‘We are commenting based on the existing Island Plan because that is what we have to do as a statutory responsibility. It is really a political matter if the inspector decides to base his decisions on proposals which have not yet been debated by the States. That would clearly make this whole process somewhat nonsensical.’

– Parking

Head of parish infrastructure Silvio Alves said that just 10% of the parking spaces planned for the new site would include electric-vehicle-charging equipment.

Calling for this figure to be increased, he said: ‘I am suggesting that the government should be leading by example, given the climate emergency, and that it should be extended to more than just 10%. I would have expected to see at least 50%.’

Meanwhile, committee member Geraint Jennings added that he would like to see charging points in 50% to 75% of spaces given the impending phase-out of petrol and diesel vehicles.

‘There is no reason why we cannot plan for a decade ahead and have parking spaces with electrical charging points,’ he said.

Mr Baker claimed that storage for 150 bicycles at the proposed new hospital would not be covered and that this needed to be amended. Mr Crowcroft also called for more motorcycle parking places, arguing that the 50 currently proposed were not sufficient. He also said that electric charging points should be provided for them.

– Public transport

Later during the meeting, the issue of public transport arose, with some committee members claiming that there was a lack of a detailed transport plan.

Mr Alves said: ‘I do not know if the committee has had a chance to read the detailed transport policy but it is an intention to operate a bus service every 15 minutes. It is only an intention; there seems to be no commitment. I have made comments saying there needs to be commitment and, throughout the plans, there are a lot of intentions and no guarantee they will be delivered.’

Meanwhile, Ted Vibert said there was no reason why there could not be a dedicated shuttle-bus service, similar to the one currently running to Fort Regent for people attending vaccination appointments.

– Victoria Park

Mr Alves also highlighted the possible loss of the parish-owned Victoria Park toilet block – a listed building – during the meeting and how, he claimed, neither he nor his colleagues had been approached about the idea. Other members also questioned the need for the proposed new roundabout in the area.

– Traffic

Since Overdale was announced as the preferred site for the new hospital in October 2020, some of the main points of contention have focused on traffic.

And yesterday was no different, with committee members raising concerns over the effect of the facility on Cheapside and Queen’s Road.

Making reference to earlier comments, Mr Crowcroft said: ‘There is no wider evaluation of the traffic impact and we need to say that there is no understanding shown by the engineers of how this is going to affect, for example, Cheapside, with all the traffic that is coming into that area, particularly at school and commuting times.’

He added: ‘I think we have made the point before that a lot of the focus of the traffic survey has been on Westmount Road and not nearly enough consideration has been given to Queen’s Road and the whole area around there. It is so congested.

‘It has a school and is also an area that is slated for more housing within the [draft Bridging] Island Plan. We have perhaps not mentioned enough that thousands of people live in these areas and go about their daily lives, and it is going to make a big impact on them if they cannot get to and from their homes.’

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