Our professionals have secured planning permission for a significant extension to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford. The planning consent was granted partially retrospectively in view of the important role that the facility fulfils in the COVID-19 pandemic.
It includes a new five storey Critical Care Building, the demolition of the existing Barnes Unit, relocation of the Tissue Building, a new replacement link corridor within the building connecting the Trauma Building, and various ancillary works.
In an unusual move, the work on the Critical Care Building began prior to planning consent having been granted to meet the urgent demand of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care System for increased critical care capacity. Coupled with this demand, Oxford University Hospitals experienced a surge in hospital admissions in the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in an overflow of patients from critical care units to other hospital accommodation such as general wards and theatres, which in turn impacted ongoing elective activity.
Due to COVID-19 and the important role that the John Radcliffe hospital plays on a regional and national level, Oxford City Council fast-tracked the application process, meaning that much of the planning work taking place behind the scenes was carried out simultaneously to construction work.
It was necessary for the planning application to be fast-tracked due to a combination of factors: time-limited available funding for the new facility, the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, and the pressing critical care need. Collaboration was key to achieving this. The City Council was consulted at the earliest possible stage and both members and senior planning officials were fully appraised and updated on the initial build phases. Ultimately, this close working partnership resulted in the planning application being placed before the Council’s East Area Planning Committee where, after debate, the Committee resolved to grant the application.
Huw Mellor, Partner, commented, “Under normal circumstances, planning approval and construction for a new development of this scale would take many months or possibly even some years, with building beginning only when planning permission had been granted. This development represents a hugely significant new clinical facility at the John Radcliffe Hospital and provides much-needed critical care for the region. Achieving its delivery in such a short space of time was only possible with the collaborative position afforded by the City Council in their consideration of the proposal, and the proactive way in which they engaged with the Trust team through the whole planning application process. It’s a reflection too and an excellent example to my mind of the direction of travel of the Government’s evolving planning regulations in respect of the general easing of the planning path for health authority related developments, particularly so during the ongoing pandemic.”