£99.5m cash boost approved for Luton & Dunstable Hospital

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Plans to invest almost £100m at the Luton and Dunstable Hospital site have been approved, which will end it having to operate on “a make-do basis”, a meeting heard.

Work on the £99.5m capital project could start later this year, but the current coronavirus crisis might delay the timetable.

Two separate schemes were submitted by Luton and Dunstable University Foundation NHS Trust to the borough council’s development control committee.

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One involves the partial redevelopment of the hospital site with an acute services block, ward block and the redevelopment of the Lewsey Road car park to a multi-storey, with some buildings demolished. The other consists of the five-year use of two plots of land behind 767 to 769 and 779 to 785 Dunstable Road to provide temporary parking for hospital staff.

Luton & Dunstable HospitalLuton & Dunstable Hospital
Luton & Dunstable Hospital

The six-storey acute services block includes operating theatres, a delivery suite and neonatal intensive care, as well as critical care and associated facilities.

The four-storey ward block will also house critical care, as well as the trust’s offices and machine room elements of the development. It will result in the replacement of some of the site’s most outdated estate.

The L&D is one of the leading hospitals within the east of England, according to a report to borough councillors.

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“Its continued growth and enhancement is vital to both local and regional needs as populations continue to grow and technology moves forward,” said the report.

The aim is to improve facilities as the premises “in its present form operates on a make-do basis”, it added.

“Inefficiencies are inherent within the existing layout and this is symptomatic of an uncoordinated approach to development of the hospital site since it was built.”

A previous scheme in 2016 to address these issues “proved undeliverable for reasons beyond the control of the trust”, explained the report.

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Proposals for a three-storey Lewsey Road car park were approved in December 2018.

The revised scheme is mainly four-storey, while the number of spaces has increased from 248 to 272.

There will also be storage for 232 staff bicycles, 42 public cycle spaces and a staff shower block.

A travel hub is being created to reduce the daily constant congestion in the area, made worse by vehicles queuing back on to Lewsey Road.

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The trust’s second application involves two vacant plots of land covering almost one-and-a-half acres on the southern side of Dunstable Road.

Both sites have been largely vacant for a significant period of time, resulting in fly-tipping.

The car park at the back of 779 to 785 Dunstable Road will provide 85 spaces, while the one behind 767 to 769 will cater for 122 vehicles.

Barriers will prevent unauthorised use of the car parks. Councillors approved both projects.

Funding is now also in place for the planned merger between Bedford Hospital and the Luton and Dunstable, with further investment plans in the pipeline at both sites.