THE redeveloped Royal Bournemouth Hospital will include hundreds fewer parking spaces than originally proposed after BCP Council said a higher provision would have been “unacceptable”.
Expansion of the site is expected to create about 900 new jobs but the intervention from planning officers means 443 extra parking spaces will be provided rather than 1,000 initially planned, writes Josh Wright of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.
The news has been criticised by Conservative ward councillors for Littledown and Iford who said the decision would exacerbate issues with hospital staff parking in nearby residential areas.
Members of the council’s planning committee approved the expansion of the hospital site in July, despite concerns about the effect it would have on congestion.
Under the plans, the total number of parking spaces would increase by 443 to cater for 900 new employees with an expectation that a maximum of 700 would be on the site at any one time.
However, it has now been confirmed that Royal Bournemouth Hospital had originally put forward plans for 1,000 extra spaces before being dissuaded by the council before its application was submitted.
An email sent to senior councillors said that approach would have led to a “significant increase in staff car parking availability that was considered to be unacceptable” with an average of more than one parking space per hospital employee.
It added that the proposal showed a “disconnect” between the hospital’s aim of increasing use of sustainable travel methods among its workforce and that the later-negotiated new direct bus route to Poole Hospital and cycle infrastructure made up for the reduction.
But the decision has drawn criticism from ward councillors Lawrence Williams and Bobbie Dove who raised concerns about transport issues when the application was considered in July.
Cllr Williams said the move would lead to the area becoming “one giant car park” rather than encouraging staff to use other methods of transport.
Cllr Dove said she was concerned about the safety of hospital staff having to park off-site and returning to their cars late at night. She said the move amounted to forcing hospital staff and visitors to “buy into” by the council’s “dogmatic agenda”.
A spokesman for the council said the extra parking did not comply with planning policy, and planned multi-storey car parks “would have had a significant impact on existing protected trees”.
He said the council’s initial concerns were overcome by the extra transport initiatives put forward in the application which was approved by the planning committee.