Hospital project gets green light
A £127 MILLION hospital expansion scheme that promises to transform health services in North Essex was given the go-ahead last night.Colchester Borough Council's planning committee voted unanimously to give the green light to proposals to build a seven-storey state-of-the-art facility in the town.
A £127 MILLION hospital expansion scheme that promises to transform health services in North Essex was given the go-ahead last night.
Colchester Borough Council's planning committee voted unanimously to give the green light to proposals to build a seven-storey state-of-the-art facility in the town.
The multi-million pound project will see the existing facilities at Colchester General Hospital almost double in size and will also mean the closure of the 183-year-old Colchester County Hospital with all its services transferred to the new site in Turner Road.
Health bosses hailed the decision and claimed the region could soon have landmark hospital "fit for the 21st century".
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The ambitious scheme includes a £30 million cancer centre, a £10 million ophthalmology unit, 70 extra hospital beds and an airport-concourse style hospital entrance with a new restaurant and coffee shop for visitors.
But the motion was only passed subject to a number of concerns about parking spaces, light pollution and quality of architecture being sufficiently addressed.
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An extra 800 car parking spaces were included in the plans, making a total of 1,710 – a 10% increase of the Trust's current allocation.
But Myland parish councillor Patrick Mills told committee members residents in the area around the hospital were worried about increased traffic congestion already high despite the opening of the New Northern Approaches Road.
He said: "Our parish is a hospital friendly parish – we've hosted a hospital here since the late 19th century.
"But we are concerned about the extra traffic that would come as a result and the implications for parking in the area – as these plans stand they are just not adequate.
He added: "We also think the height of the building would be excessive and are worried about the amount of light pollution it would emit."
A proposal by Mile End ward councillor Anne Turrell to try to limit the size of the building to just four storeys was voted down.
After the meeting David Hewitt, Essex Rivers Healthcare NHS Trust's project director, David Hewitt, said: "It was a good meeting and the concerns raised were legitimate and I'm glad some of them will be considered further.
"But we've been working on this project for almost three years and we're confident it will create a hospital fit for the 21st century.
He added: "This will arguably be the most significant NHS development in North East Essex since Colchester General Hospital opened in 1985."
Paul Unsworth, chief executive of Tendring Primary Care Trust, said the knock-on effects in his are would also be beneficial.
He said: "This plan will allow us to centralise acute services on the Colchester General site and relocate many outpatient, diagnostic and therapy services in the community.
"This will improve access to health care for the people of Tendring and reduce the number of journeys to Colchester."
Scientific staff working at Severalls Hospital, the microbiology unit on Turner Road and IT staff currently at Colchester Business Park would also be moved onto the general hospital site.
Two main areas of the site are earmarked for expansion - part of the neighbouring former Turner Village Hospital site and the space between Gainsborough Wing and the main hospital building.