Expansion plans to add seven new elective theatres to the John Radcliffe Hospital have been submitted in an aim to curtail the waiting lists following the Covid pandemic. 

Carter Jonas has submitted plans on behalf of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to Oxford City Council for the expansion project. 

The proposed plans involve erection of a new 7,541sqm modular theatre building with associated infrastructure, landscaping and parking.

The proposed plans claim the expansion will help fill the need for a new theatre building 'urgently' required to address the 'growing' number of patients waiting for routine elective surgery, and the 'significant' waiting lists following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The plans say within the proposed theatre building developers will create seven new elective theatres with procedure rooms, and associated admissions and recovery space.

The expansion plans say it will include a basement shell space which has potential for a new sterile services facility in future. The building will also include a dedicated link corridor access for patients and staff to the existing West Wing building.

The proposed development will be built over the existing car park one, adjacent to the trauma building. The net loss of parking will be 136 car parking spaces as a result of the proposed development.

Oxford County Council has not issued any objections to the proposal but it has expressed concerns over "loss of parking and lack of improvement to active and sustainable transport options which would mitigate the impact".

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Headington heritage, who released a public comment on the application last week, said: "The applicant has a long track record of endless, incremental expansion resulting in a housing shortage, catastrophic traffic, which damages health, wastes time, and contributes to the climate emergency, and creating flooding via vast hard surface car parks."

Oxford Mail: Proposed site plan.Proposed site plan. (Image: Oxford University Hospitals Trust)

Headington Heritage went on to outline their reasons against the proposal which included "exacerbating housing needs by creating demand for extra staff and their families and increasing the need for travel".

They also stated: "The proposal marginally reduces parking, but this is offset by extra demand, to be satisfied by Just Park, Park on my Driveway and illegal parking in Headington which is unenforced."

In a consultee comment released yesterday, Oxfordshire County Council suggested that parking was oversubscribed at the John Radcliffe Hospital.

It went on to say: "Car parking is already an issue on site for both staff and visitors which is only going to be exacerbated by the development."

The John Radcliffe Hospital is the main teaching hospital for Oxford University and Oxford Brookes University, and incorporates the Oxford University Medical School.

It opened in 1973 and is the major trauma centre for the Thames Valley with its distinctive white-tiled structure occupying a prominent position on Headington Hill.

The main parts of the John Radcliffe building are its Oxford Children's Hospital, Oxford eye hospital, and the Nuffield Laboratory of Ophthalmology.

In a statement to the Oxford Mail, the Oxford University Hospitals Trust said: “We have submitted a planning application for a new building to provide extra theatre capacity on the John Radcliffe Hospital site. 

"This proposed scheme is currently at an early stage and, if planning consent is granted, will include more operating theatres and clinical spaces. 

"We are currently exploring our options for the site, including considering any impact on staff parking, as well as liaising with our Transport team and other key OUH stakeholders.”

Oxford Mail: Proposed elevations.Proposed elevations. (Image: Oxford County Council.)

Public environmental monitoring body, Natural England, presented no objections to the proposal as it was deemed to not have significant, adverse impacts on designated sites.

Thames Water noted an inability of the existing water network infrastructure to accommodate the needs of the proposal and had contacted the developer but did not reach a resolution and as such requested assurances around impact on water pressure.

The county council states that while the proposal seeks to provide an additional 35 cycle parking bays for the new theatre, no information has been given on where this will be located or in what form.

It added: "It needs to be acknowledged that existing cycle parking at the hospital is insufficient in terms of numbers and quality."

This is a point also made by Headington Heritage, which states: "Cycling provision at the JR is already very poor, (or very heavily used).

"The provision of 1:5 is far too small, as many out-patients and relatives will be able to cycle."

Availability of parking at the Hospital has previously been a point of contention and earlier this year there was an increase in cost of patients and visitors parking up to £2.20 from £1.40 for 30 minutes to one hour.

The County Council noted: "The application refers to the relocation of 136 parking spaces but there does not appear to be sufficient information as to how this will be achieved, other than staff spaces to be re-designated as visitor spaces."

More information about plans to expand the John Radcliffe Hospital can be found on the Oxford City Council website.