Following the release of plans for a new expanded Accident and Emergency Department at Durham’s University Hospital, as local councillors we have been forced to intervene.
We did not get notification of the plans, this despite the fact the hospital borders our area and it is residents in our area who will be most affected. I also discovered not a single local residents was to be notified of the proposals either. In addition, the application from Durham and Darlington NHS Trust did not include a travel plan.
The council wasn’t consulting with a single local resident in the surrounding area, despite this having a massive impact on residents.
We felt this was wholly unacceptable misjudgement by Labour-run Durham County Council.
For many years parking problems have plagued the area due to lack of space at the hospital and excessive charges for staff and visitors.
Following our intervention, the Head of Planning at Durham County Council has confirmed that residents across a wide area will now receive letters about the application.
We raised further concerns about the fact the Travel plan for the new A and E was not submitted with the application and would not have been seen until after the end of the consultation period. The plan will now be submitted in the next two weeks so that we can comment on it within the consultation period.
We also contacted the press about our concerns – some comments made below:
Cllr Amanda Hopgood, Lib Dem group leader said that submitting the travel plan after the end of the consultation period was “completely unacceptable” and would leave residents thinking there was “a rabbit away” believing the impact on the surrounding area must be addressed. Also commenting to the press she said “We fully support having an excellent A&E facility but we must see a robust plan to deal with the horrendous lack of parking at the hospital.”
The use of the A and E has doubled and is set to rise by over 30% over the coming decade according to the hospitals’ plans for a new Accident and Emergency building.
Amanda further commented “I am not convinced that this application offers anywhere near enough parking provision.”
“We were told previously that a multi story carpark was being considered. That is not in the plans. We will be analysing the travel plan when it appears and may have to challenge it at committee.”
Again Durham Council has accepted failings in the process and confirmed that a travel plan will now be submitted within the consultation period.
Cllr Mamie Simmons commented “We felt that the public in Durham were being ignored by the Council and the Hospital Trust in respect of this application. This doesn’t bode well for the future.
“Hospital parking is causing issues up to half a mile from the site. It causes serious disruption for residents and businesses.”
I believe hospital staff have never had their parking concerns adequately addressed by the Trust. Parking charges are considered excessive for visitors and staff and the nearby park and ride is near capacity.
Many streets around the hospital have had residents only parking installed, and the concern is that this will have to be extended even further out from the hospital at additional cost to residents.
We are also commenting that there has been large increase in complaints about the over-use of ambulance sirens in the area and that this could be further exacerbated by the expansion if proper procedures are not put in place – to clarify sirens do not need to be on at all times, only where there is a safety concern. Some residents believe that sirens are being used when there are no other road users or pedestrians around and are therefore unnecessary.
You can comment on the application by writing to the Council at County Hall, quoting reference: DM/16/01417/FPA
To view the application click here. Note that the travel plan has not yet been uploaded.