Dorset County Hospital multi-storey parking plan agreed

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Image source, Dorset County Hospital NHS Trust
Image caption,
The multi-storey car park would be built on the south-eastern corner of the campus

Plans to build a multi-storey car park at a hospital to make space for its expansion have been approved.

Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester has been allocated £62m by the government to expand its emergency and intensive care services to meet demand.

Proposals to free up land by building a multi-storey car park were unanimously agreed by councillors, despite planning officers recommending refusal.

Dorset Council officers described the structure as "an incongruous addition".

Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said its emergency department, which was designed for 22,000 patients a year, was dealing with nearly 50,000 people prior to the Covid-19 outbreak.

It said the extended facilities would be built on the site of existing surface-level car parks, which would be replaced by a seven-storey, 654-space car park off Williams Avenue.

Dorset Council's northern area planning committee had been advised to reject the car park application, on the basis of its "size, positioning and massing", but granted approval.

Image source, Google
Image caption,
The hospital is surrounded by Edwardian and Victorian houses

A council report said the structure would detract from the character and appearance of the wider neighbourhood, which includes historic buildings, a conservation area and Victorian and Edwardian houses.

However, committee chairman Sherry Jespersen said members were "satisfied that the harm to the heritage and landscape" would be "significantly outweighed by social and economic benefits".

In a statement the hospital trust said: "We are very grateful to the local councillors for so carefully considering our application and recognising the importance of this development for our hospital and local people."

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