08/07/2009

Bronglais Expansion Back on Track After Council Supports Park & Ride

Bronglais Hospital's Front-of-House extension is back on track after Ceredigion Council's Development Control Committee gave the go ahead to the linked Park & Ride scheme on Clarach Road once there's been agreement on minimising how the proposed subdued lighting will affect the local bat population. Despite 40 objections from people keen to save the field due to be used for the scheme, the committee felt that the risk of losing the hospital extension altogether was so great that they voted overwhelmingly to allow planning permission.

Although objectors suggested more suitable sites for the scheme, NHS executives had been making it clear for some time that the funding window is running out and any more delays would be very likely to result in the allocated £34 million going elsewhere as the NHS braces itself for major cuts in the next few years. Members of the Development Control Committee are used to developers pleading urgency in this way but NHS insiders have been becoming increasingly agitated that this threat is for real. There are senior NHS executives in south Wales who would be only too delighted to have the Bronglais money - the biggest capital project in Hywel Dda Trust - re-allocated to their own pet projects. The potentially catastrophic effects of losing the project - closure of the current sub-standard theatres, leading to the loss of A & E and the downgrading of the whole hospital - was a risk the committee were simply not prepared to take. Two years ago several hundred people marched around Aberystwyth campaigning for the hospital's status to be maintained.

Council Highways officers have for some time been looking for Park & Ride sites for both the north and south of Aberystwyth in an attempt to reduce morning queues into the town. Slow-moving traffic is the most carbon-intensive form of car use. The search for a similar site to the south is ongoing.

Other Aberystwyth planning issues decided:
The major extension to the Llety Parc Hotel in Llanbadarn has been put on hold again after the Environment Agency expressed serious concerns about flooding. Planning officers had recommended outright refusal of the application but councillors sympathetic to the locally-run business argued for more time to discuss a way of managing the risk. Council legal officers said that allowing the application without a proper flood risk plan would leave the Council, and maybe individual councillors, liable for damages in the event of a flood.
An innovative extension to Ysgol Plas Crug with strong sustainability credentials, including a turf roof, has been agreed.

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