Parking spaces to go in ERI plan
HUNDREDS of car parking spaces at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary will be lost under fresh development plans being considered by NHS Lothian.
New buildings at Little France will also be able to go above two storeys for the first time thanks to new agreements with council planners.
Images released in a document by the health board and Consort – partners for development at the site under the private finance initiative – show numerous options for the coming years.
And it appears the placing of the new Sick Kids hospital would result in the loss of more than 800 spaces at the hospital's largest car park, with smaller developments also eating into parking space in and around the site.
That would halve the number of spaces overall, even though new developments would see up to 40,000 people coming on to the site every day.
This, coupled with the mothballing of a proposed third tramline from the city centre to Little France, is causing headaches for NHS Lothian bosses trying to resolve transport issues for both there and the upgraded Western General site.
Environmental campaigners will welcome a cut in parking spaces – seeing it as a deterrent for car use – but staff and patient representatives were less keen.
When initial planning permission was granted for the ERI in 1997 only 980 spaces were provided. This rose to 1,700 under revised consent following protests, but faces being reduced again once the new developments get under way.
It has led to concerns that under the agreement between NHS Lothian and Consort, the latter would want compensation for any fall in car parking income it would receive.
Tom Waterson, Unison's Lothian branch chairman, said: "The catering terms mean if Consort don't get a set amount of income from that, the health board has to make it up, and the parking side of things will be written up the same.
"So if we've got less people paying to park, who's going to have to make that up to Consort?
"The staff are concerned about parking, because there's no news on the tram line and there's not much in the way of alternative transport.
"Once the bio-quarter is developed there will be even more staff coming in, so it doesn't make sense to reduce parking spaces."
The health board's chief operating officer, James McCaffery, said access was one of the main aspects to consider during the planning process.
He told board members at a meeting this week: "Transport is still a major issue. One big aspect is the fact that tram line three may be resurrected and that is a good sign.
"There could be 30-40,000 people visiting the site every day so the transport routes have to be right. Another thing is that our sites have to be sustainable and take forward green initiatives as well."
He added that the helipad at Little France may also have to move under new plans, and that substantial investment in creating hospital "villages" at Craigleith and Little France would not impact on the health board's 12.5 million pledge to improve St John's Hospital in Livingston, contrary to West Lothian health campaigners' fears.
Under planning arrangements struck when the ERI was originally being drawn up, council officials insisted nowhere in the whole site rose above two storeys, due to the nearby conservation areas and locality of Craigmillar Castle.
But this will change with the construction of the 150m Sick Kids facility, according to head of capital planning and premises development at the health board, Iain Graham.
He said: "Subsequent clarification has indicated that good design sympathetic to the setting of Craigmillar Castle and other views may be considered to raise the building height above the current ERI levels."
The Little France Site Development Strategy Report also shows the new Sick Kids entrance next to the current accident and emergency, theatre and radiology departments, meaning patients and staff can travel between the two effortlessly.
It will also boast impressive views in all directions, including towards the Pentlands and Arthur's Seat, to make patients' stays as pleasant as possible.
The design will also make the most of afternoon and morning sunlight.
Other developments drawn into the blueprint include a new Department of Clinical Neurosciences next to the Sick Kids, a non-clinical support block to the rear of the ERI, and garden space in and around the Sick Kids where car park B is currently situated.
Options for alternative car park developments, including multi-storey alternatives, were also outlined in the plan, although it is understood those considerations are very much in the early stages.
A WORLD-CLASS FACILITY
THE new Sick Kids hospital will open in 2012, providing a world-class facility.
The Evening News revealed last year that a deal had been struck to publicly finance the move from the ageing Sciennes facility to Little France.
The 150 million was welcomed in all quarters, and the Scottish Government is putting up 50 million. The rest of the cash will come from the anticipated tens of millions that would be raised from the sale of the Sciennes structure.
Health chiefs are confident it will become one of the best paediatric hospitals in the world, and are keen to retain its "homely and child-friendly" feel.
The new hospital will be aided by a 15m fundraising campaign,
New Pyjamas, and as well as the 15m target to be reached by the time the hospital opens, the campaign will continue to generate millions every year.
The charity also launched its own social networking site at www.newpyjamas.org
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North