Delivering new facilities
Covid-19 healthcare infrastucture
CategoryHealth and wellbeing
Proof of concept
Delivery of Critical Healthcare Infrastructure during COVID-19
Lawson Planning Partnership Ltd (LPP) were highly commended for their role in providing town planning advice at Colchester and Ipswich general hospitals. They were appointed by East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), to provide planning advise to urgently reduce the significant impact on surgical operating capacity and NHS waiting times during Covid.
They supplied planning advice to help facilitate the delivery of key projects including the delivery of temporary structures under emergency ‘permitted development’ provisions.
- The healthcare projects benefited an area covering a patient population of around 800,000.
- LPP provided town planning advice to help the Trust deliver urgent facilities required to combat the Coronavirus pandemic.
- Their advice helped the Trust with the challenge of unprecedented demands on acute healthcare.
How/why did the project benefit the public?
The project delivered significant benefits to the local patient population of around 800,000 people. For example, advice from LPP helped with the development of a new building at Ipswich Hospital to support the regular screening of asymptomatic staff to mitigate infection risk to patients, staff and visitors at ESNEFT hospitals, followed by a 10-year temporary planning permission for its retention. It was also designed so that it can be re-purposed in post-COVID settings for diagnostic pathology activity such as immunology to further benefit patients.
LPP also supported with the development of a new modular office space used by hospital staff to provide virtual clinics to support patient care by ensuring they didn’t have to attend the acute hospital unless essential. This helped to the Trust to manage resources and deliver high quality care to patients most in need, while also reducing risk to them.
Planning advice given by LPP also led to the creation of a Pathology Laboratory providing the Trust with increased capacity for testing and reducing the need to send patient tests to other diagnostic centres, thereby speeding up the provision of results and resulting in better outcomes for patients due to early diagnosis.
What were local planners looking to achieve on the project?
- To play an active role in ensuring the best outcomes for patient care could be delivered.
- To recognise the challenges faced by LPP and the Trust and work closely with them to support the approval of planning applications.
- To ensure that the planning system could be used to actively support the delivery of critical infrastructure necessary to mitigate the challenges bought about from Covid-19.
- To support the creation of infrastructure designed to enhance patient safety.
Justifying the need
How were local planners essential to the project's success
To overcome time constraints associated with securing planning permission, LPP utilised Government guidance around emergency development. LPP also added value by recommending the preparation of retrospective planning applications to retain specific buildings either permanently or for a temporary period.
Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) were very important in this process and worked closely with LPP. This approach saved valuable time and potentially abortive costs by avoiding the need to retrofit or replace buildings in order to meet current planning standards.
Planners also played a key role in helping to ensure that permission was granted as quickly as possible, allowing for the buildings to be retained either permanently or for a temporary period. Local planners also worked with LPP on pre-application engagement on areas including draining infrastructure and the environment.