06/04/2008

Diweddariad Bronglais Update



Bronglais Hospital have talked more about their latest planning application to build a five-storey extension to the current Accident & Emergency department and an extra layer on the bottom car park. The outline application is for the principle of development on the site of the Pathology Lab (the old maternity unit) with the result expected towards the end of May. If successful the hospital intend submitting a further application for the detail of the development.

Below is a summary of issues raised at a recent meeting with hospital representatives and a small group of residents living immediately opposite the site. The hospital has announced a further public meeting for all local residents at 7.30pm on May 12th in the hospital dining room.

The notes below should not be taken as an endorsement of any particular view.

Introduction
The proposal is to build a five-storey extension to the current A&E department by demolishing the Pathology Lab (once the maternity unit) and to build an extra layer on the bottom car park.

The reason given was that the current operating theatres fall well short of modern standards and the A&E department is far too small. Health and Safety legislation and modern technology is increasingly requiring more space to run these services. Bronglais Hospital’s future is as an emergency care unit for it’s catchment area. If it cannot develop this work to modern standards then it will be downgraded.

Why is the application for five storeys when the meeting in September said there would only be four? It also looks as if the ‘ground floor’ of the new block would, due to the slope of the road, be several feet above road level, making the building look even taller.
Response: The fifth storey is smaller than the others and is for the machinery (‘plant’) necessary to run the theatres etc. rather than a floor of the hospital in the same sense as the others. It will include air conditioning for the theatres, lift mechanisms etc. This storey won’t cover the whole of the top layer.

Couldn’t the hospital go lower, by digging into the ground, instead of being so high?
Response: This would be much more difficult and expensive and is not considered feasible.

Why does the new development have to be alongside Caradog Road? Why can’t it be on another part of the hospital grounds, for example by using the grounds of the houses it owns on Penglais Hill or even demolishing them?
Response: It is essential for the transport of patients between the new theatres and the wards that there is a direct corridor running all the way from the main hospital to the new unit. Having the new unit at the end of the current hospital is the only way to do this because of the grounds levels on the sloping site. The corridor link will be on the third floor. One of the houses in the middle of the row on Penglais Hill is owned privately so is not available to the hospital anyway. The intended placement of the new unit has been identified by a series of options appraisals.

Why can’t the hospital move somewhere else more suitable?
Response: A new site at Lovesgrove has been explored but is not possible in the foreseeable future. Securing the land and everything entailed would take nine years. This is far too long and, without improvements, the hospital would have been downgraded by the time it was built.

Won’t the machinery on the top floor make a noise?
Response: It won’t be heard.
It was then pointed out by residents that the existing machinery floor at the top end of the hospital opposite the Post Grad can be heard at the moment. The reply was that the new machinery floor would be much better than the current one due to modern machinery and soundproofing techniques. The current machinery is 25 years old. However the hospital said they would ask the engineers to quantify what kind of noise the new floor would produce.

How many additional car parking spaces will there be compared to the present.?
Response: 40 are planned at present.
It was then pointed out that the original plan was for 70 and that, at the meeting in September, it was 50. The hospital responded that, since then, they have been informed that there has to be a space between the hospital wall and the lower car park, thereby reducing capacity. The reduction may once have had an effect on parking income but hospitals are no longer allowed to charge for car parking.

What effect would the proposals have on traffic in the area?
Response: The front access of the A & E department would be moved from the Caradog Road side to the Penglais side. Although some lorries etc would still need to access the hospital via the top of Caradog Road, as they do now, the main access to A & E for ambulances, cars and pedestrians will effectively be turned around to face the other direction. This will have the effect of greatly reducing traffic in Caradog Road. The Trunk Road Agency is a statutory consultee but has not yet submitted its comments on the plans to the Planning Authority.

Why is it necessary to have a gymnasium in the plans? Is this for staff?
Response: No, it’s a specialist gym for physiotherapy patients

What would happen to the old theatres and the old A & E?
Response: Not yet sure. Pathology may move there, although Histopathology (20% of pathology work) may go to Carmarthen. Bronglais have also asked the Welsh government for money to modernise the current renal dialysis unit. This could go into the old theatres.

How long would it take to build and what would this entail?
Response: It would take two and a half years to put up the main structure including demolishing the old building. During that time the bottom car park would act as the builders yard, meaning that there would be no parking there. The hospital is currently working out how to manage this very difficult situation. To begin with, it is clear that the builders would have to be bussed into the site every day from a site out of town.

How would residents manage whilst its being built?
Response: There’s no doubt it’ll be very disruptive. However modern building standards would help to minimise this. Residents would be fully covered by the builders insurance. The company have been responsible for building a prestigious building in a built-up area of Dubai so are used to working in this kind of space. The route for heavy lorries during the building period would be from Penglais Hill.

How advanced are the financial plans?
Response: The proposal is a £33 million capital project to be funded by the Welsh government. This is part of a £300 million capital investment in the new Hywel Dda Trust. The hospital wanted to get this proposal in now because they were concerned that, with the Trust merger, they could otherwise lose out to larger proposals for Carmarthen and Haverfordwest.

They have not yet received approval from the Assembly for the Outline Business Case, although they expect to received this towards the end of April. They are then hoping to submit the Full Business Case in December. They hope to start building next year.

What is the timetable with the planning application?
Response: This current application is for Outline Planning Permission, that is, permission for the principle of the development. A decision by the Planning Authority is expected in May. A Full Planning Application (for the detail) is due to be submitted in July.

What are the plans for further public liaison?
Response: The hospital recognised that they promised to continue liaising with local residents at the September meeting and that they should probably have held a further meeting since then. The next public information session is planned for 12/5/08. Venue to be confirmed

Other points made
These points were noted by the hospital who said that they could perhaps be addressed in the next, detailed, planning application.

Colour - The colour on the plans looks terrible. Can the colour be in keeping with the rest of the hospital and the street and not too dark? The hospital said that this was simply the colour used on the outline plans drawn up by the architect and they had not thought about a colour at all yet.

Fifth storey – given that it’s not going to cover the same footprint as the lower floors, can the fifth storey be moved to the back of the hospital so that the building doesn’t look so tall from Caradog Road?

Monolithic – On the plans it looks like one huge block. Can it be designed so that it doesn’t look so monolithic?

Windows and lighting - Will lights be blazing from the building 24 hours a day? Can it be designed to minimise this? Also, what can be done to prevent people in the hospital being able to overlook homes on the other side of Caradog Road?

View from above – it was pointed out that the hospital can be seen from houses overlooking it, especially on the other side of Penglais. Would it be possible to design the roof so that it looks better from above?

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