West Suffolk Hospital looks to add an extra 400 parking spaces to its Hardwick Lane site

West Suffolk Hospital is looking to address parking problems with plans for an extra 400 spaces

West Suffolk Hospital is looking to address parking problems with plans for an extra 400 spaces - Credit: PA

West Suffolk Hospital is looking to introduce an extra 400 car parking bays at its Bury St Edmunds site in a bid to reduce existing pressures on spaces.

Parking problems in and around the Hardwick Lane site had been a long-running issue, and had led to a number of measures including a park and ride scheme for hospital staff at Bury Rugby Club and the introduction of parking restrictions in nearby residential streets.

Councillor Sarah Stamp, who represents Hardwick on Suffolk County Council, said plans for an additional 400 spaces on site was a “significant” move, and really the first time the hospital had properly admitted there was a problem.

The proposal for the extra spaces is included within the draft masterplan for the Hardwick Lane site, which is going before St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet on Tuesday.

Mrs Stamp said: “I’m very supportive of that, actually, and I think it’s a good indication the hospital is taking seriously there’s a lack of parking on the site and seeking to address that, which can be only good news for the residents.

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“But I will be watching closely to make sure they keep up with the park and ride at the rugby club. That’s been such a fantastic scheme and had really helped the situation in the area and I want to make sure that continues.”

A hospital travel plan report, which was prepared in 2014, said there are more than 1,400 spaces on site, however it was operating “at capacity”. The last time spaces were increased substantially was in 2004 when 260 were added.

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The extra 400 spaces would be in an area of woodland abutting the rear gardens of residents in Sharps Road.

The masterplan is supported by a tree survey and ecological assessment, and heritage trees would be kept.

The report, which is going before the borough’s cabinet, says any harm caused by the loss of trees would be “outweighed by the public benefit that the additional spaces would bring”.

As an alternative, the trust considered decked parking, but felt this might be viable as part of a comprehensive redevelopment of the hospital in the future.

A spokeswoman for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said: “The masterplan sets out a framework for potential development of the hospital site in the short to medium term and is designed to help us plan for the future so that we can continue to meet the needs of our patients.

“We are pleased it has been approved by the council’s sustainable development working party and will be considered by the cabinet and full council over the next few weeks. If it is approved, we will need to make separate, detailed planning applications for each of the developments outlined in the document at the appropriate time and before any work could take place. This would include the creation of additional car parking and the development of a cardiac catheterisation lab.”

She said the trust is still investigating the feasibility of a potential move to the western side of Bury and expects this work to be complete early next year.

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