Plans progress for hospital's multi-storey car park

Plans progress for hospital's multi-storey car park

Published by Maria Greenwood at 11:42am 4th December 2019.

Multi-storey car park plans for Dorset County Hospital have been welcomed by Dorchester town councillors.

The 650-space building, set into the hill on a corner site at the bottom of Williams Avenue and Damers Road, will allow for future expansion on the hospital site, including accident and emergency.

But the new seven-floor building will dwarf neighbouring homes, the adjoining children’s centre and businesses on the other side of Damers Road.

Town councillors at Monday’s planning committee congratulated the hospital for its design and attempts to minimise the impact of the building while saving as many trees as possible.

DCH redevelopment - multi storey to be behind these trees at the junction of Williams Avenue and Damers Road

The new car park will feature a ‘living wall’ to soften the structure.

'Not an answer to parking problems'

Committee members heard that the new car park would not resolve the hospital’s parking issues and a transport plan for the site would also be developed to keep on-site demand down.

Future development at DCH will increase the need for extra parking with staff, patients and visitors continuing to seek free spaces in the surrounding streets.

Planning committee chairman Cllr Robin Potter said he welcomed the proposals which would ensure new investment in the town and the future growth of the 400-bed hospital.

DCH redevelopment - final plan of site

'Increasing staff numbers'

The meeting heard that staff numbers at DCH by 2026 are expected to be up by 22 per cent on the 2015 figure.

The hospital currently employs around 3,500 staff and contributes an estimated £169million a year to the local economy.

A&E demand alone is expected to rise from 48,000 patients to over 60,000 a year.

It was designed for 22,000 a year when it opened.

DCH redevelopment - multi storey car park to be on right behind trees

Said Cllr Andy Canning who chairs the area transport committee:

“I really welcome this, it’s a good step forward…in an ideal world we would provide even more spaces. A good job has been done in trying to make it blend in.”

A welcome also came from Cllr Fiona Kent-Ledger although she admitted to being worried about the bulk of the building to begin with: “It will have an impact,” she said, adding that, as with other large developments in the town, such as Brewery Square, people would get used to it.

Cllr Tim Harries said that if the building had been just for extra car parking he might have voted against it, but because it opened the way for future improvements to services he welcomed it, but he said he suspected that a park and ride might still, eventually, be needed for the town.

A final decision on the application, which is open for comments until January 22, will be made by Dorset Council.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter