Remodelling Uckfield Community Hospital car park is designed to make it safer and more convenient for users.
The works will mean that there will be six fewer parking spaces than originally provided when the hospital opened in 1994.
However, those spaces are nowadays not accessible to drivers because they have been used for storage units.
The works will also see the bus stop moved, a drop-off point created and improvements to the disabled parking spaces.
Permission for the work was granted by Wealden District Council on December 21.
The planning application received the support of Uckfield Town Council’s plans committee.
The remodelling affects the existing car parks to the front of the hospital and to each side.
It is separate to the provision of more parking spaces opposite the ambulance station, which has planning permission but has not been implemented.
What’s the problem?
Sussex Community NHS outlined the “existing problems” at the hospital:
- The existing car park has a bus shelter which is isolated, not very visible (looks like a smoking shelter) and is not suitable to accommodate limited mobility visitors and patients.
- The front of the hospital is “overly congested” with several near misses reported due to emergency vehicles, goods vehicles, private cars and taxis all using the space.
- There are no deterrents for illegal parking and cars frequently park on grass verges and junctions. This is made worse with no dedicated staff parking parking, meaning people will often park in high-risk places.
What’s the solution?
- Dedicated drop-off bays for taxis, clinical couriers and drop-in service users with angled bays for safer, consistent, vehicle movement.
- Other site deliveries will have a dedicated marked entrance at the rear of the site
- A new improved, dedicated accessible bus stop will be provided next to the hospital building, to the north of the entrance.
- In the same area, a dedicated ambulance parking bay is proposed.
- The disabled bays will be improved to meet current standards.
- The safety of visitors and staff would be improved by restricting parking on roads and verges.
Trying to discourage car journeys to the site
One of the conditions made by Wealden in granting permission for the works to NHS Property Services is that a travel plan must be submitted. It must give details of incentives and how travel to and from the hospital in Framfield Road other than by car will be encouraged.
The existing site layout has 137 parking spaces.
A planning report said:
“The original parking layout was approved as part of the planning permission for the hospital in 1992, and is subject to a planning condition requiring its retention.
“Whilst the proposed scheme would have benefits, such as improved signage, improved access to disability parking and relocation of the bus stop (so it is better related to the hospital entrance), it would result in the loss of some six parking spaces in comparison to the original approved site layout.
“This is due to the proposals to retain a double container unit for clinical use (occupying two parking spaces) and the loss of a further four spaces currently occupied by a refuse/recycling enclosure which would be removed and the area marked out as a junction box with a ‘no parking’ designation.
“A further single container unit, occupying one parking space, has been confirmed as temporary and is, therefore, taken as proposed to be removed.”
What’s happened to car park extension plan?
The planning permission for 23 spaces opposite the ambulance station was granted in June 2015 but will expire in mid June this year, although the council has been advised that the NHS intends to go ahead with the work, which will free up spaces for patients near the hospital itself.