West Suffolk Hospital to create 400 extra parking spaces to meet demands from staff and patients

Patients have been forced to park in neighbouring roads in the past as space at West Suffolk Hospita

Patients have been forced to park in neighbouring roads in the past as space at West Suffolk Hospital is in such demand

West Suffolk Hospital bosses insisted last night that people’s concerns had been taken on board as part of a bid to create an extra 400 car parking spaces at its Bury St Edmunds site.

The hospital trust has submitted a proposal for an extension to its car park in woodland at its Hardwick Lane premises to address a shortage of spaces, which affects both staff and patients.

The new car park would include the replacement of about 100 temporary spaces, with about 400 new spaces on top of this. Creating the extra spaces would also see parts of woodland in an area next to properties in Sharp Road cut down.

Occupants of at least seven properties in Sharp Road have objected to the plans, with concerns over lighting glare into homes and gardens, noise, security and overlooking.

One resident said they had been particularly concerned about the potential increase in noise from the development and a “considerable reduction” in screening offered.

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A spokeswoman for the hospital said it had consulted widely with neighbours throughout the planning process and had revised the proposed scheme to take into account their comments and mitigate any concerns they may have.

“We have ensured the area is fully covered by CCTV and added additional fencing to enhance security, while the impact from lighting will be minimised with extra planting and the use of low level lighting which automatically reduces by 50% from 8pm onwards.

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“We will also use a noise-reducing surface on the car park and have retained every tree of significant interest in our plans, with the car park designed around them.”

Plans for extra car parking spaces are also included within the adopted masterplan for the hospital site.

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 spokeswoman said: “We appreciate that parking at the hospital has been an issue for some time, with patients, visitors and staff having difficulty finding spaces during peak periods.

“Although we have introduced a range of initiatives which have helped, we have also seen a rise in visitors to the site as demand for our services has increased, which is why we have submitted this application.”

She added: “The proposed new car park is in line with our travel plan, which sets an objective to provide adequate car parking on site while continuing to promote alternative ways for people to access the hospital.”

West Suffolk Hospital received £1.3million car park income for the last full financial year, which it said is reinvested directly into patient care and amounts to the equivalent of the cost of running a ward for a year.

OCS operates the car parks and there is due to be a review of car parking charges at the end of this year.

See more hospital news in our health section here

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