Multi-storey car park needed for Bedford Hospital before East West Rail work at St Johns Station goes ahead

Hospital car park site will need needed for new track and station
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Bedford Hospital needs a multi-storey car park before East West Rail rebuilds St Johns station, a meeting heard.

The borough council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (March 4) was told that the Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is a key stakeholder in the strategy for rolling out East West Rail from Bedford to Cambridge.

“And as such we meet with East West Rail quite regularly,” the Trust’s director of redevelopment and strategic planning, Melanie Banks, said.

Bedford St John's Railway StationBedford St John's Railway Station
Bedford St John's Railway Station

“We understand that their scheme will go through public consultation this year and they have to navigate the general election as to when they launch that.

“We lease the majority of our car parking from a site that will be taken away from us when they progress East West Rail because they will need that site to enable the new track to go in, and to build the new train station which is proposed in the St Johns’ location

“So the conversations that we’re having at the moment are absolutely around how do we protect the Trust’s interest in terms of how we ensure our people, so our staff, our patients, our visitors, can access the hospital as they do now, and that any of the plans for East West Rail aren’t detrimental to the services that we provide.

“So absolutely working with that ethos that we shouldn’t be negatively impacted by the developments that will take place,” she said.

The Trust’s chief executive, David Carter, said effectively having a station on the Bedford Hospital campus is a “good thing”.

“However, navigating the way through that in terms of the disruption, potentially, and whilst the work is going on… we’re in the early days of understanding what that might mean in the short term,” he said.

“About disruption around traffic, and the site [itself], we’re much more focused on the more fundamental problem of there’s got to be a multi-storey car park before anything happens.

“If there’s not [it would] cause a major, major, issue for the continuity of the site,” he said.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service approached EWR Co after the meeting.

Its spokesperson said: “Better access to health services will be a major benefit of East West Rail – indeed our recent polling shows that 78 per cent of people in Bedford believe it will improve access to essential public services like hospitals.

“This is why we are currently working very closely with Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on designing a permanent car parking solution which will best serve the needs of all hospital users as well as allowing for the extra capacity needed for EWR.

“More details on these plans will be available to view and comment on at our statutory consultation later this year,” they said.