Labour ask Mayor’s Office to help protect St Mary’s Hospital A&E access from Paddington Cube

Despite the three Tory members of the planning committee allowing the Paddington Cube plans to pass, Westminster Labour group has written to the Mayor of London’s planning team to ask them to use their powers to ensure that the scheme does not proceed without guarantees for the safety of patients at St Mary’s Hospital. The letter from Group Leader Cllr Adam Hug and Cllr David Boothroyd (the one member of the committee to object to the decision to proceed without safeguards) is written as follows.

Dear Samantha

On 6 December, a planning applications committee of Westminster City Council resolved to grant planning permission for the ‘Paddington Cube’ office development. While the Labour group on Westminster City Council raised wider concerns (see, the specific issue which we wish to raise is the closure of London Street. This street is the route used by emergency ambulances to approach St Mary’s Hospital from the west.

Since Central Middlesex and Hammersmith hospitals closed their accident and emergency units in 2014, St Mary’s has been serving a very large area of West London. It also includes a major trauma centre whose patients often need to have emergency operations. St Mary’s does not have a helipad so the only practical access for emergency patients is by road.

Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, who run St Mary’s, have made their extreme concern about the Paddington Cube project absolutely plain. They go to the level of saying that “it potentially risks the long term future of the hospital by impacting on its ability to maintain its major trauma centre status because of the deterioration in access conditions that would arise as a result.” While the trust is concerned with its status, the safety of individual patients is clearly endangered.

The plans proposed a new road along the eastern edge of the site, but which would mean ambulances having to make two additional 90º turns to get to St Mary’s. At a late stage, the applicant undertook to fund a second road further east (using Winsland Street) which might avoid these turns and which St Mary’s consider acceptable in principle. However this road alignment goes through some of St Mary’s operational buildings and its delivery is dependent on St Mary’s own redevelopment plans.

In a representation to the committee, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust said that it is inappropriate to rely on Winsland Street because the applicant is unable to control the delivery of this highway solution – see paragraph 3 in the attached document. In addition, the chronic congestion problem on Praed Street between London Street and Norfolk Place must be addressed including diversion of TfL buses.

There is a danger that Westminster City Council may be prepared to issue the permission on the basis of a legal agreement which merely allows the developer to fund the Winsland Street road and does not in fact require that the road is built and opened before London Street is closed. Given the GLA’s comment in paragraph 76 of the Stage 1 referral that “further discussion and feedback” was required on blue light ambulance routes before Stage 2, can we ask that you ensure that this development is not allowed to proceed while significant safety concerns remain?

We feel that unless safe and speedy emergency routes to St Mary’s Hospital are ensured, the Mayor must be ready to direct refusal of this application.

Yours sincerely

Cllr Adam Hug (Leader, Labour Group, Westminster Council)
Cllr David Boothroyd (Member of Planning Applications Committee no. 1 on 6 December, Westminster Council)

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