THE Our Hospital team was warned in June of planners’ likely opposition to the Overdale development, it has emerged in a recently published document.
Planners said that it would be ‘a tall order’ to resolve a series of fundamental problems with the scheme.
They cautioned that the programme’s timing requirements – on which the 2026 opening is based – might not allow the building’s visual impact, public access and impact on the environment to be successfully resolved.
Last week the Planning Department refused to back the Overdale development. The release of their pre-application planning advice – ahead of next month’s public inquiry – shows concerns had already been raised months before the plans were lodged in November.
Such advice – given to help applicants address issues likely to be of concern before they submit a formal application – is not normally made public but the detailed comments of Peter Le Gresley, the government’s head of development and land, are among the latest documents to appear on the government website.
In his comments last summer, Mr Le Gresley wrote: ‘The approach to the visual impact and design of such a large building on an elevated site will need to be refined again and again to be successful.
‘The transport strategy will need to prove that this development will not leave the Island with the legacy of an isolated site, reachable only by the private car.
‘The impacts on nearby residents need to be explained and mitigated. And the impacts on important and sensitive Island heritage assets will need to be more carefully managed.’
Mr Le Gresley highlighted the importance of the forthcoming States’ decision on the new Bridging Island Plan, which will set planning policy for the next three years.
Under the existing plan, he stated ‘there is a significant risk that the planning policies relating to transport, heritage, design and visual impact will present a strong impediment to a successful outcome’.
He acknowledged that the emphasis would change under the Bridging Plan – which confirms Overdale as the States’ choice of site for the new hospital – but he warns that many of the tests that would be applied under the new plan are similar to those that currently exist.
‘Indeed, the draft new policies around design, coastal and landscape impact, and place-making are more firmly emphasised. The applicant will need to work much harder than the scheme seen to date to justify an approval,’ Mr Le Gresley wrote.
Following receipt of the advice and public consultation Senator Lyndon Farnham, the minister with political responsibility for the hospital project, published revised plans in September.
They formed the basis of the project’s planning application, which the Planning Department last week refused to back, saying that the damage created by the development ‘outweighed even the very significant benefits generated by the proposal’.