Liberal Democrat councillors have spoken out to support emergency expansion plans for Addenbroke's hospital if the Trust decides it is necessary in response to the Coronavirus pandemic.
It is understood that Cambridge University Hospitals Trust is considering building temporary new facilities adjacent to Addenbrooke's, providing 120 extra bed spaces to accommodate the potential demand from Coronavirus patients. Work has already begun to lay hard standing on the site immediately to the south of the recently constructed multi-storey car park. Due to the necessary urgency, they do not intend to seek planning permission, which would normally be necessary, and the structure is expected to be temporary.
Councillors on city and county councils representing all or part of Queen Edith’s including the site itself – Cllrs George Pippas, Colin McGerty, Jennifer Page-Croft, Amanda Taylor and Barbara Ashwood - have spoken out to support this approach as the right one if the Trust decides it is necessary in response to the pandemic.
On their behalf County Councillor Amanda Taylor said:
“In times like these, everyone understands and supports Addenbrooke's in responding as it judges right in order to keep on providing treatment and saving lives. This is a global emergency, almost like a third world war. Addenbrooke's is on the front line and under great pressure. Patients and staff must be given the facilities they need to fight off the pandemic. There should be no question of the council taking enforcement action in these circumstances.
“Planning in relation to the Bio-medical campus is often controversial in our area, but at times like this the need to act fast is unchallengeable. People are proud of the fantastic contribution Addenbrooke's and their brave staff are making in this crisis and this is not the moment to stand on procedure.”
City Councillor George Pippas added:
“We are encouraged that the hospitals trust is being open with planning officers about their intentions. We understand that the land in question already has outline, but not full planning permission for development, though not for these temporary facilities. It remains important the creation of temporary facilities without planning permission like this doesn’t pre-empt the way the site is used in the longer run. In due course that must still be subject to thorough planning process, applying all the normal criteria, with full opportunity for public involvement.
“We will be seeking these assurances from planning officers as soon as we are able next week - and are confident about receiving them”.