A £16.5m project is set to ease parking gridlock at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.
The ambitious scheme will provide around 1,000 spaces in a new multi-storey car park as well a creating a new entrance at the hospital.
The funding has been borrowed from the Department of Health and will be paid back from income generated through parking charges.
Hospital bosses say the investment will help recruitment of key staff.
Hospital chief executive Aidan Kehoe said: “The car park will be a major step forward in the provision of high quality patient care.
“It will provide better access to the hospital for our patients, visitors and staff.
“More importantly it will support our drive to recruit more nurses and other key clinical staff from the Fylde coast and outside the area.”
The main construction project will take a year to complete and give a total of 2,056 available car parking spaces to meet the demand for all staff, patients and visitors.
Currently there are around 1,081 parking spaces on the hospital site.
The lack of parking at the hospital has been a long-standing problem with residents repeatedly complaining about staff and visitors leaving their cars in nearby roads.
Currently at peak times long queues of traffic form on the site.
The new three-storey entrance will be built at the Whinney Heys Road end of the site, and will include a pharmacy, shops, cafe, main reception, waiting area and office accommodation. It will link into the main hospital and be the main access point for most patients, visitors and staff apart from those using accident and emergency and the maternity unit which will continue to use present entry points.
The parking scheme will also see a redesign of the road layout surrounding the hospital making it much easier for patients to enter and exit the site, easing the current traffic problems.
The multi-storey will provide approximately 939 spaces and all public parking, apart from minor drop offs, will be located in this area. Staff will have parking on the upper floors.
A redesigned bus terminal will also be incorporated into the plan.
To enable construction work, some accommodation currently used as offices will be demolished.
Director of clinical support and facilities management, Robert Bell said: “Staff had identified adequate, safe and close parking was a high priority for them and this will address those concerns.
“It will also make the hospital a better neighbour by stopping the practice of on-street parking which was very unpopular with local residents.”
A meeting of Blackpool council’s planning committee decided last night to defer a decision on tearing down old nursing homes at the site to add more spaces to the car park. Residents had made it clear to their ward councillors that not enough consultation had taken place and they were upset by the hospital’s plans.
Councillors and officers will now look again at the decision, however, the overall plans for the car park were not affected.
Coun Gillian Campbell, who represents the residents of Park ward, said: “I think the multi-storey car park is a fantastic idea because I have a lot of residents near Grange Park who are affected by staff parking on their driveways.
“The hospital needs it because it has expanded because it has expanded so much in the last few years.”
But Coun Campbell is also having to liaise with other residents who claim their lives will be disrupted if the car park is built.
She added: “They feel there has been a complete lack of consultation with them.
“They are not anti-hospital they just want what is best for them, but they have to live with it 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I’m sure if the rust sits down with them and discus ses it, they will be fine.”
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