Countess of Chester Hospital bosses have lodged a planning application for up to 500 residential units as part of a radical multi-million pound transformation of the health park.
A masterplan is being developed that aims to create ‘future ready’ environments that meet clinical needs while minimising running costs.
But controversially it will be funded by redeveloping land for ‘commercial use and income generation’.
A plan for 500 new homes and a ‘drive in’ coffee shop are among ideas suggested in a recent document.
And the Countess says its plans ‘may or may not’ include selling facilities that are not used for direct patient care.
The Countess and Wirral University Teaching hospitals, who are working in partnership to ‘make the best use of their combined assets’, have identified a private sector partner to redevelop their sites.
And the blueprint is in line with the contentious Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) for this area which across the country aims to cut the NHS budget by £22bn.
Work on the strategy has now led to an outline planning application seeking permission to demolish Moston Lodge offices at the rear of the hospital to make way for between 300 and 500 health-park related residential ‘units’.
There would be communal support accommodation, ancillary facilities and associated car parking and landscaping.
A Memorandum of Information suggests the accommodation could house students in a building up to five storeys in height.
Among the claimed benefits is funding towards a £13.1m extension, remodelling and refurbishment of the existing A&E department to create ‘West Cheshire Acute Hub’.
Other elements of the proposed changes at the hospital site are:
■ Consolidation of clinical services within the main building
■ Re-development of the Women and Children’s Building following a re-location of its clinical services ‘due to the building no longer being suitable’
■ ‘Drive in’ coffee shop employing 12 people for up to 100 covers
■ Re-development of the Neo Natal Unit
■ Between 64 and 90 interim care rehabilitation beds on an as yet unidentified site
■ A multi-storey car park for between 466 and 1,252 vehicles
Hospital chief executive Tony Chambers said of the planning application for up to 500 residential units: “This is a tentative enquiry specific to some forward planning work around how we manage our estates that was set in motion in May last year.
"As an outline application there is no further detail, this would follow at a later stage. The intention is to test and understand what assets and value we have as part of our current Countess site.
“We have made no secret of our ambitions to build a new accident and emergency facility here in Chester to help us meet the increasing demands for urgent care services.
"This will require significant investment, and we want to keep all options on the table around how we might raise the funds for this – which may or may not include selling facilities that are not used for direct patient care.
“If we do decide to progress this, as with all detailed planning applications there would of course be a full and thorough consultation.”
Moston Lodge is a non-clinical and office environment that sits separately to the main hospital site, surrounded by existing residential buildings which includes staff accommodation.
Staff based in Moston Lodge will continue to provide corporate support services for the Countess.
The NHS Trust says there is under-used office accommodation elsewhere on the Countess Health Park that could be a base for staff currently in Moston Lodge if required.