Following a period of engagement earlier this summer, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust (QEH) has submitted a full planning application for a multi-storey car park (MSCP) to be built on the hospital site.
A MSCP is a key ‘enabler’ for the Trust’s much-needed new hospital scheme which would be built on the site of the existing main car park. As well as addressing immediate parking needs, building a MSCP will demonstrate that QEH is ready to deliver a new hospital as soon as funding is secured and a positive announcement is made about QEH being added to the New Hospital Programme list.
The planning application includes a Statement of Community Involvement (SCI), which gives an overview of the public engagement activity carried out on the proposed new car park and the key themes that have emerged from the feedback received. The SCI also describes how the plans for the car park have been amended in response to this feedback.
Over 280 people attended meetings and exhibitions about the proposals and over 390 people responded to a questionnaire. Overall, the feedback showed there is strong support for a multi-storey car park and gave the Trust additional insights into patient and visitor experience of parking at the hospital as well as views from local residents. Common themes in response to the proposals include:
- providing more parking spaces, and having sufficient spaces to meet future demand
- ensuring there is sufficient and dedicated parking for staff
- concerns around traffic congestion on site and on the roads around QEH
- keeping parking costs to a minimum and offering a range of ways to pay for parking
- ensuring the new car park is easy to use, safe and accessible to everyone
In response to the feedback a number of changes have been made to the plans, among others, this includes:
- changes to the road layout around the car park entrance to ease traffic congestion
- confirming that the new car park will be pay on exit and payment by app will be an option
- using automatic number plate recognition technology to allow for barrier-less exits, making it faster to enter and exit the car park
- increasing the size of individual parking spaces to make it easier to park and get in and out of vehicles
- using colour coding and improving signage to help people find their way around the car park and find spaces
- locating blue badge spaces on the ground floor and ensuring enough height clearance for these spaces to accommodate mobility vehicles
- enhancing the external planting and soft landscaping to further improve the look and feel of the environment around the car park
Speaking about the engagement on the proposal for a multi-storey car park, Laura Skaife-Knight, Deputy Chief Executive at QEH said: “We are very grateful for all the feedback we received during the engagement period – from our local community, partners and staff – which has been essential in helping develop and refine our plans. The simple truth is that our buildings are in a desperate state and have reached the end of their life and we must secure the necessary capital investment for a new hospital. The MSCP proposal is a critical component of the scheme and shows we are ‘investment ready’. Submitting our planning application, that takes into account the feedback we heard on the plans, is an important step in building our future.”
The full Statement of Community Involvement is available on the Trust website. The planning application once validated will be open to public comment on the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk planning portal for the normal 21-day statutory consultee period. The Council Planning Committee will then consider the planning application and a decision is expected to be made early next year.
If the planning application is approved and the necessary funding is agreed work will begin on the new car park in Spring 2023.
During the engagement period, the Trust heard, once again, the depth of support for its plans to bring a new hospital to King’s Lynn and West Norfolk as the current estate reaches the end of its life. The Trust continues to wait to find out if it has made it onto the list for the Government’s eight further hospital schemes and continues to push its compelling case on all fronts.
Notes to editors
- The official engagement period on proposals for a new multi-storey car park ran from 30 August to 11 September 2022, with some additional activity postponed until late September following the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
- The engagement period included two in-person public meetings with an exhibition and one online meeting as well as two staff meetings and a staff exhibition. Leaflets, posters, news coverage and social media activity promoted the engagement period to patients, visitors, local people, stakeholders, partners and staff
- The MSCP proposal is in line with most new hospital schemes across the country which include plans for multi-storey car parks, recognising that for patients, visitors and staff, good access to parking has a significant impact on their experience
- National experts said that QEH has an end-of-life date of 2030. QEH was constructed using Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) planks which cover around 80% of the entire estate
- The number of support props installed across The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) has increased to 3,397 as part of a rolling 3-year failsafe installation programme. There are now six times more props than beds – and QEH is the most propped hospital in the country
- The increase from 1,528 to 3,397 support props follows planned work to install steel and timber support props in Castleacre and Windsor wards over the last few months