A vision for the new hospital takes form

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The plans, released to allow the opportunity for comments before the formal planning application is made later this year, show how the natural features of the site have been used to create what is described as ‘a patient-centred experience’, with emphasis also placed on facilities for staff, or ‘caring for the carers’.

Although the drawings focus on the footprint of the hospital and its surroundings – and not on its architectural detail – they set out a vision that separates the acute care functions of the hospital from facilities for mental health, which are accommodated in a different building on site.

What has been described as a ‘campus’ will now also provide a ‘knowledge centre’ – for training and to encourage partnerships with institutions in the UK – a 700-vehicle car park and a separate energy centre which includes back-up generators, in addition to the main hospital block itself. The future-proofed development would permit expansion if required.

Combining in- and outpatient facilities, the main block has been relocated slightly, following fears raised about the loss of trees that an earlier design would have entailed.

To create more space to the south-west of the site, capitalising on the wooded land that leads down towards St Aubin’s Road, the position of the main building has been moved to the east. It means that, in addition to the road-widening required on Westmount Road at the bend towards the People’s Park, the section of the road by the main entrance will now also be moved to the east to create space for the hospital’s access.

Drawings illustrate the way in which the functions of the hospital would be arranged across its five levels. In-patients are accommodated on the top two floors, with cancer and renal patients given facilities which allow treatment to be provided in environments which capitalise on the views.

The outpatients and X-ray departments occupy the ground floor with the emergency department, which was relocated from the main entrance to the north side of the building, screened from the crematorium gardens.

The Our Hospital team have explained how the design is intended to reinforce the patient experience, which includes introducing a striking element of internal design – an internal boulevard which leads through the building from the main entrance, past courtyards that are accessible to the public with seating areas, to a cafeteria at the far end that will be shared by hospital staff and the public. The boulevard runs a distance of 160 yards, or the equivalent of the bottom section of King Street from Charing Cross to the intersection with New Street.

One purpose of the internal thoroughfare is to orientate visitors and patients, the routes through the building emphasised by colour palettes influenced by Jersey’s natural environment, and serving to divide what are described as active and calm and contemplative zones.

Inevitably, the mass of the building is sizeable, but to reduce its immediate impact on Westmount Road, the frontage will comprise a two-storey structure, with the remaining floors set back from the main entrance.

‘The overall height is approximately the equivalent of the International Finance Centre in St Helier. The six-storey IFC building is the equivalent of a five-storey clinical building,’ the presentation states.

While it is accepted that the building will be visible from a significant portion of St Helier, extending west to St Andrew’s Park – as well as being visible on the horizon line – it is contained within the Overdale site, so that shadows cast from the buildings onto neighbouring property will be minimal, according to studies produced for the design drawings.

The Our Hospital team explain that they adopted a site strategy for the layout of the essential elements to give a ‘flexible and efficient’ hospital that was least damaging for the natural beauty of the site, a key element in the well-being of patients.

Drawings indicate that gardens created to the south-west of the site will occupy a similar area to that occupied by the Millennium Town Park, while tree planting will be undertaken to offset the
loss involved in the widening of Westmount Road, resulting in an overall increase.

According to the team, the design concept has been informed by 150 meetings involving clinicians, 3,800 views of virtual exhibitions, 280 participants at virtual meetings for the community, six meetings of the citizens’ panel and meetings of the community liaison group. The presentation cites a number of themes which have emerged in discussion and helped shape the design concept: enhancing space around the hospital building, incorporating ‘green rooftops’, integrating green spaces and nature, early consideration of arts, investigations to reflect important local heritage aspects, accessible parking, and protecting and enhancing natural environment.

It shows how the team considered a number of options for the relationship between the main building and facilities which would originally have been located on the other side of Westmount Road before they elected to move the road to create what is described as ‘new public realm’ outside the main entrance. This can be used, in future, the presentation states, for arts and heritage displays.

A significant element in the presentation deals with challenges associated with transport. Chief among them is confirmation that the current access route up Westmount Road is inadequate without road-widening but other issues include the current irregular bus service, a lack of cycle routes, and narrow pavements. An active travel route, comprising space for pedestrians and cyclists, would be created in addition to extra road-width for vehicles and new bus stops on Westmount Road and St Aubin’s Road.

The approach would have consequential benefits for vehicles leaving the site, including the possibility of turning right at the bottom of Westmount Road, at the junction with St Aubin’s Road, to avoid having to use the ring road to travel west, with improvements allowing a right turn onto Victoria Avenue and enhancements of the existing roundabout.

More pictures in Friday’s JEP.

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