‘Will hospital have enough parking?’

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QUESTIONS were raised over the provision of parking spaces around Bicester’s new hospital this week.

Details of the £5 million scheme were presented to Bicester Town Council on Monday night by a representative of developers Kajima Mansell.

Councillors’ questions included how spaces would be kept free for hospital users, and how many spaces would be provided for the 14 new homes to be built on the site of the current hospital in Kings End.

Councillor Nick Mawer said the gravelled car parking area behind the hospital was very popular with users of the nearby Bicester Health Centre, and asked what the developer’s plans would entail.

Richard Coe, senior development manager for Kajima, said: “We need to stop people parking who are not there for bona fide health reasons.”

He said the hospital parking would be free, but must be regulated in some way.

Mr Coe added: “There will be 51 spaces. It’s less than the gravel area at the moment, but if we take out the people who shouldn’t be there, you have a solution that works.”

Councillor Mawer said: “There are clearly people who are commuting, but I’m wondering whether there’s enough parking for the existing health provision, and what this could do is make it even less easy for people using the health centre and doctors’ surgery.”

Councillor James Porter asked if a drop-off area would be provided for patients.

“It’s going to be a managed car park, and there is no specific drop-off area,” said Mr Coe. “We need to set the ground rules very carefully over how the spaces are used.”

Of the 14 new homes, Bicester town mayor councillor Dan Sames questioned whether a single parking space for each home and two for any visitors could be an underestimation.

Following the meeting, Mr Coe said the hospital parking was a difficult issue, as the gravel parking area has not been subject to regulation and was popular with shoppers and commuters.

“It needs to be purely for health users,” he said.

He added: “This is Eco Bicester. You can keep providing more and more parking spaces, but more spaces encourages more and more cars.”

Mr Coe said he hopes the hospital planning application could be decided by Cherwell District Council as early as next month, although it may not be until September.

Councillors saw plans for eco-friendly features on the hospital, which include the use of ‘solar chimneys’ to create natural ventilation, and rainwater collection.

Other features of the modern 12-bed hospital will include a private therapy garden for patients.

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