THE DETAILS of Poole Hospital's future role as the county's major planned operation centre have been laid bare in the Trust's planning application to BCP Council.

The hospital, which currently has eight cramped theatres, has applied for permission to almost double its operations capacity, remodelling its existing theatre area to provide five enlarged theatres in their place on Level 2. It will also need to construct a two-storey high plant room to accommodate the giant air-handling units each theatre will require.

On Level 1, an existing pathology space will be remodelled to provide two further new theatres. Finally, the new building creates space for four new theatres at Level 1 and a four-table barn theatre -one large space where four operations can take place simultaneously on Level 2.

The hospital has found the space on its notoriously crowded site by filling what its architects describe as a 'void space' on the corner of the hospital site adjacent to a service road off Longfleet Road. It wants to demolish part of the existing structure there to accommodate the new section.

But the plan could bring it into conflict with conservationists because of its proximity to St Mary's Longfleet Church, which is a Grade II listed building.

Conservation officer Margo Teasdale said in her statement to the planning department that the pre application had: "Failed to provide the indicative drawings and visualisations which enable the impacts on the Grade II Listed St. Mary’s Church and the CA (Conservation Area) to be fully assessed.

"In my view the proposed extension does not demonstrate how it addresses the heritage assets in the visualisations or in the scale, massing and the lack of elevation detailing," she said. "I appreciate that some of these aspects do not need to be addressed in the pre-application although the site is in a sensitive location and need to go further to address the nuances of the site beyond a masterplan stage of planning."

One of the reasons for the new building's bulk is because it will need to house a dedicated air handling unit for each theatre, each of which is approximately 13m long by 2m high.

Architects for the project, A D Architects said the development would be: "Sympathetic to St. Mary’s Church and the adjacent cemetery."

it said: "The height and set back of the building from Longfleet Road has been considered, so that it does not block views of the church from surrounding areas."