PERMISSION for a major expansion of Royal Bournemouth Hospital is set to be given next week.

Members of BCP Council's planning committee will be asked to approve the scheme, which includes a new six-storey extension, when they meet on Thursday (July 23).

The project is part of the £147 million overhaul of NHS services in Dorset and the merger of Royal Bournemouth and Poole hospitals.

The outline planning application was submitted in June 2019 and proposes a new six-storey extension, an expanded emergency department, multi-storey car park and a pathology laboratory.

As part of the proposals to make the hospital a major emergency care centre, the project would facilitate paediatric, maternity and intensive care units. Permission for work at Poole Hospital to make it a "planned treatment" hub was given last year.

The multi-storey car park will be built at the rear of the hospital, replacing a tennis court and staff accommodation. It would increase the total number of parking spaces by more than 400.

In its plans, the hospital trust said 900 new jobs would be created and that construction was expected to last for about four years.

More than 100 letters supporting the scheme have been sent to BCP Council while three separate petitions in favour of it have had a total of almost 2,500 signatures.

However, 161 people have objected to the application, raising concerns the hospital site would become overcrowded, that traffic issues in the area would be exacerbated and that the shifting of services to the hospital would be "detrimental" to Poole.

Some of their concerns were echoed by council planning officer Peter Burridge, but in a report he says transport initiatives in a section 106 agreement overcame many of these.

These include land to build a segregated cycle route adjacent to Deansleigh Road, new pedestrian and cycle accesses  from Toby Carvery and Burger King and a direct bus service between Royal Bournemouth and Poole hospitals.

His report, published ahead of next week's planning committee meeting and recommending councillors approve the application, said the benefits of expanding the hospital outweighed remaining issues.

“The application would help facilitate large-scale changes to Royal Bournemouth Hospital which would form a part of the change in healthcare provision for Dorset and which would help facilitate improvements in patient care," it says.

“The development would have significant impacts, notably on the character of the existing hospital site and the surrounding area and in respect of traffic generation and highway movements.

“[But] having regard to changes secured as part of this outline planning permission, and subject to detailed assessment at the reserved matters stage, the section 106 agreement and planning conditions, it is considered that the benefits of the proposal would outweigh the associated harm.”

A final decision will be made by councillors next week before final details of the project are agreed through the reserved matters process.