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Planning permission has been granted for a significant extension at John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford.

Unusually, work on the extension had already begun, with planning granted partially retrospectively due to the need for extra facilities to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic. The Critical Care Building was developed to meet the urgent demand of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West Integrated Care System.

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. The move is a prime example of the Government’s push towards making planning easier for improvemnets to public buildings and also of how procurement can become a speedier process.

John Radcliffe hospital plays an important role in healthcare on a regional and national level, which is why Oxford City Council fast-tracked the application process, with much of the planning work taking place behind the scenes being carried out simultaneously to construction work.

Partners in the project cite collaboration as key to the process. 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.

Development works include 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.

Huw Mellor, Partner, Planning & Development, at Planning Consultancy Carter Jonas, 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.”

Image: Ben Molyneux / Shutterstock.com

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