MEMBERS of Clitheroe Civic Society had their questions about plans for Clitheroe’s new community hospital answered during a meeting with its developers and architect.
Here is a report by a spokesman for the civic society about the meeting.
“As many will be aware, the proposal by the local Primary Health Care Trust for the provision of a new hospital to replace the ageing buildings in Chatburn Road was cancelled some two years ago as a result of the problems of the economic situation. Recently, however, we heard, with some anticipation, that a new design had been evolved and an application for full planning approval for this had now been submitted to the Ribble Valley Borough Council together with an application for outline approval for redevelopment of the existing hospital site.
“Eager to know more about the design, content, intended and expected timescale and much more besides, we contacted Ms Jackie Hadwen, chief executive of East Lancashire Building Partnership, which is responsible for the scheme, and she immediately offered to present the scheme to us and answer any questions we may have. Consequently, we arranged for her to join us in the Ribble Valley Borough Council Chamber on Tuesday October 23rd. On the evening, she was joined by Mr Justin Harris, of Nightingale Associates, the architect for the project.
“Large scale drawings were displayed to illustrate the general shape and content of the scheme and these and more are available on line at www.clitheroechd.co.uk (note too, that the full submissions including all supporting documents to the Ribble Valley Borough Council planning committee are also available by accessing the Ribble Valley Borough Council website at www.ribblevalley.gov.uk and searching for planning application numbers: 3/2012/0786 for the hospital and 3/2012/0785 for the housing on the site of the old building).
“Ms Hadwen outlined the situation that had given rise to the submission at this particular time. Principally, a proportion of the cost of the scheme is available now and will remain so until the spring of 2013 at which time the management of health facilities generally will pass from the NHS to Clinical Commissioning Groups, these latter principally ‘owned’ by local general practitioners. With this in mind, a great deal of work had recently gone into the planning of the project and currently, it is hoped it will be considered and approved by the planners during December this year, allowing for commitment of these funds and commencement on site in early 2013. Should this be achieved, completion and occupation of the building is expected in late summer 2014.
“Mr Harris explained that the new project was now to be limited to two rather than three storeys, but, at 4,050 square feet, it was slightly larger than the present buildings which totalled 3,700 square feet. It would have four four-bed wards plus 17 single occupancy rooms, all of the latter having en-suite facilities which not only improved the comfort and convenience for the patient, but much reduced the likelihood of cross-infections. All in-patient wards etc would be at first floor level and all out-patient consultation and treatment facilities remaining at ground floor. Possible future expansion would be by extending the separate wings, but not by adding a third storey. Thermal insulation etc had been included to a very high level and environmentally friendly concepts had been included at all stages. Both vehicular and pedestrian access would be from Chatburn Road except for ambulance and servicing which would enter from Pimlico Link Road. Car parking provision was to the standards demanded by Lancashire County Council.
“In general, the building has been designed to provide all of the facilities currently available, but with a great deal of flexibility possible. This flexibility is an important element of the design, not only to allow for change as modern medical practice etc., may demand in future but also, in the shorter term in that the new Clinical Commissioning Group may well require changes to the plans as currently proposed. Members were assured the current provision of facilities from the old building could simply move in and carry on as normal, but also that the local general practitioners accepted that the degree of in built flexibility would cope with any currently contemplated changes in facilities.
“Questions from the floor elicited the following answers:
• All patients meals will continue to be produced on site and the WRVS will continue to operate from there as usual.
• While the hospital is designed primarily to cater for the needs of the Ribble Valley, there may still be some occupation of beds by patients from outside the district.
• Provision for the Ambulance Services to operate at least partially from the site has been offered but the Ambulance Service has not yet decided whether to take this up.
• External finishes are to consist of local stone facing to the ground floor and cement render to the 1st floor. Window frames are to be of metal and will contain opening lights.
• The current value of the present hospital site is understood to be in the region of £3m.
• The Partnership has taken on board the wishes of Clitheroe Civic Society and others that the part of the old building fronting Chatburn Road at least be retained as part of Clitheroe’s heritage. The present intention, should both planning applications be successful, would be for that part of the old building to be closed up and made safe pending possible redevelopment while all the rest of the old buildings would be demolished to reduce maintenance costs immediately after transfer to the new premises. However, no guarantee could be offered that plans for the “housing” area might not change in future.
The information given by Ms Hadwen and Mr Harris did much to clarify our understanding of the present situation and no major criticisms of the design or contract procedure were voiced and members now await the outcome of the Ribble Valley Borough Council planning committee’s deliberations.
Our speakers were thanked most sincerely for the frankness and clarity of their presentation.