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Decision time for the new hospital
On Tuesday 5th October the States Assembly is due to debate P.80: 'Our hospital - Budget, Financing and Land Assembly'. This will be a crucial decision because if P.80 is approved, the construction of the new hospital will go ahead at Overdale, subject to planning permission being granted. As with the previous States' debates on the subject, I have lodged an amendment to P.80 in an effort to safeguard St Helier's amenity space, leisure facilities - in particular, the Jersey Bowling Club - parking spaces, tree planting, etc., but at this stage, there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the impact that the changes to Westmount Road will have on the residents, environment and heritage of our Parish. The States has the power of Compulsory Purchase (CP) in respect of land owned by the Parish, should the Parish Assembly reject a negotiated price for it at a meeting which will have to be convened in the coming weeks. It is worth noting that the Planning Minister, Deputy Young, in answering a question I asked in the States before the summer recess, confirmed that he will not authorise CP unless the project has received planning permission.
P.80 will certainly challenge the elected members of the Parish as while there has been considerable opposition to the Westmount Road 'superhighway' and concerns raised by the Roads Committee, amongst others, about the traffic chaos that may result from the siting of the new hospital, there are many parishioners who think the States must just 'get on with it'. But with a price tag of over £800m, double the cost of the abandoned scheme for Gloucester Street, some members may struggle to approve the proposition on grounds of cost alone.
If P.80 isn't approved I have no doubt that the Government's gaze will once again settle on People's Park as being the only alternative and we will once again have to try to get the States, as well as a proportion of the public, to understand that our parks are not development sites but a vital part of the quality of life of everyone who lives in, works in or visits St Helier.
Simon Crowcroft, Constable of St Helier
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