MPs today made an 11th hour plea for planning bosses to approve a multi-storey car park development at Dorset County Hospital which would unlock an expansion of key services on the site - as a decision on the scheme was due to be made today.

The Northern Area Planning Committee will today discuss the application to build the car park which was proposed after the hospital was allocated £62.5 million from the government as part of the National Health Infrastructure plan.

The car park forms a vital part of wider expansion plans which includes expanding the emergency department and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and establishing an Integrated Care Hub.

But the committee has been recommended to refuse the multi-storey on account of its 'size, positioning and massing'.

A report states: "It would appear as an incongruous addition to the hospital campus, out of character with neighbouring and surrounding development, detracting from the character and appearance of both the locality and Dorchester's wider landscape setting.

"The proposed development would not add to the overall quality of the area, make a positive contribution to local character and distinctiveness, or relate positively to adjoining buildings and other features that contribute to the character of the area."

However Chris Loder, MP for West Dorset, supports plans to build the car park. In a letter to the planning committee, he said: "I cannot emphasise enough the importance of this proposed development and I urge the planning committee to approve the planning application.

"In the middle of a global pandemic, having just experienced the worst national health crisis in living memory, the local NHS needs our support more than ever."

Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset, said: "For the sake of DCH, and for the many patients in Dorset who use the hospital, I hope that the councillors will give this application the green light.

"The car park is an integral part of a wider plan to expand DCH and for that to be implicated in total, the car park needs to be given the green light first.

"I support this application because we have managed to win more than £60 million of investment from the government to invest in the hospital, part of which will be to refurbish or rebuild the A&E centre which is desperately needed.

"I very much hope that councillors will give this the go ahead."


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