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Updated 20 April 2021

Work has begun on site to build the hospital’s much anticipated multi-storey car park. This is the first phase of the development of the Dorchester site to free up land for expanding the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit, as well as establishing an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset’s Clinical Services Review.  More information is available below.

You can click here​ to view full development plans or click here to view a summary of the phases.

We will be adding more information here as the plans progress. In the meantime queries and feedback about the plans can be sent to masterplan@dchft.nhs.uk

Update – 16 April 2021

The start of construction work on Dorset County Hospital’s multi-storey car park has been officially marked with a turf cutting ceremony.

Representatives from the hospital, health and care property developer Prime and contractors Willmott Dixon gathered on site to see how work was progressing.

The car park, due to be completed in summer 2022, is the first phase of the development of the hospital site to free up land for the expansion of clinical facilities, including a larger Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit.

A temporary staff car park has now been created on the site of the old Damers School site to ensure the number of spaces available at the hospital is not affected while construction continues.

The multi-storey car park will include 12 electric vehicle charge points across seven floors (with future capacity for this to increase) and a dedicated disabled parking area. It will deliver a 10% net gain in biodiversity improvements – the site will include bee blocks built into the gabion walls, native shrub planting, a wildflower lawn and bird boxes. The south and east elevations of the car park will include climbing plants of various species to add to the project’s biodiversity.

As voted for by the local community, photos of Portland Bill, Durdle Door and Corfe Castle are planned to be used to create images on perforated metal facades to cover three sides of car park. The theme of local landscapes and landmarks was chosen by hospital staff to represent the hospital’s catchment area.

Dorset County Hospital’s Chief Financial Officer Paul Goddard said: “We are delighted to see the construction of our multi-storey car park under way at Dorset County Hospital. This marks the start of a hugely significant and exciting period in the Trust’s history and we would like to thank all those involved in helping us reach this important milestone.

“This development will make a significant improvement to the car parking challenges experienced by our patients, visitors and staff, but it is also key in unlocking plans for the future expansion of our clinical services.

“Our existing Emergency Department and ICU were not built to accommodate the volume of patients we are seeing now. Whilst our clinical teams have responded magnificently to the ever-increasing demand, alongside the additional challenges the coronavirus pandemic has brought, it is clear that we must create additional space and facilities to ensure the safety of our patients and secure the future of Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.”

Guy Kippen, Development Manager at Prime, said: “Seeing the construction work beginning is an important milestone. The multi-storey car park is the first stage in allowing transformation of the Dorset County Hospital estate and will enable the Trust to develop new facilities, deliver its clinical aspirations and create a more welcoming environment for patients, visitors and staff.”

Richard Poulter, managing director for Willmott Dixon’s Central South Region, said “We are delighted to be commencing work on this great project, supporting Dorset County Hospital in providing its critical service to the local community. 

“We are proud of the commitment to deliver a biodiversity net gain of at least 10%, a key sustainability initiative that supports our sustainability strategy.”

Multi-storey car park artwork vote

Local people were invited to choose the images which will be used as artwork on the sides of our new multi-storey car park. The metal facades will be added to three sides of the building and feature images of local landscapes and landmarks, a theme chosen by hospital staff to illustrate the hospital’s catchment area.

Thank you to everyone who took part in our vote – we had over a thousand votes!

The top three choices were photos of Portland Bill, Durdle Door and Corfe Castle which will be used to create images on perforated metal panels to cover elevations of the multi-storey car park.

Update – 5 February 2021

What is happening on site – The car park is the first phase of development at Dorset County Hospital. The car park will free up land to allow for the expansion of the Emergency Department and Intensive Care Unit, as well as establishing an Integrated Care Hub.

Work started on site on 4 January 2021 with the construction of a temporary car park on the site of the old Damers School playing field. The temporary car park will provide parking for hospital staff only. Construction of the temporary car park is imperative to ensure no detriment to the number of spaces available once the main car park construction begins. To date, the contractor Willmott Dixon  have imported stone at a rate of 300t per day to build up the level of the playing field by 300mm. Edging kerbs are being installed to the car park boundary, and electrical services ducting has been laid to accommodate the lighting columns. Willmott Dixon is currently awaiting the first delivery of the cell pave system being utilised for the car park. The cell pave system will get installed on top of the stone and a membrane and sand layer.

As part of the redevelopment, the hospital’s main entrance from Williams Avenue is being widened to incorporate additional traffic lanes and an ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) vehicle barrier system. Work here started on 18 January.  The main entrance is currently two lanes but will be widened to four. Initially, this will aid the movement of construction traffic to the main site. In the long run, it will act as an intelligent link to the multi-storey car park.  As of the end of January, Willmott Dixon started work on the Children’s Centre car park, which will see the installation of a barrier system and ANPR camera. They will carry this work out during the weekend to avoid disruption to the Children’s Centre and the COVID-19 Vaccination Centre.

What will happen next – Over the coming 12 weeks, the temporary car park will be finished, providing 160 spaces in place of the parking lost when construction on the new multi-storey car park begins. The new MSCP located at the Williams Avenue entrance of the hospital car park will provide an additional 654 spaces, of which 12 will be EV charging points when the car park opens, with future capacity for this to increase.

Our site hoarding will be erected around the site footprint in early February. The temporary accommodation will be placed in the car park adjacent to the Williams Avenue entrance. Initially, circa 6430 m3 of topsoil and subsoil will be removed from the site to allow the car park foundations to be constructed.

Following this work, there are 134 pile foundations to be formed as well as a retaining wall. This work will take place between May and June 2021.

The car park incorporates three lifts, two at the primary entrance situated opposite the main hospital and one lift at the secondary entrance near Damers Road. The initial works to the lift shaft foundations will also take place during this phase.

The main groundworks will be completed by the end of summer 2021, allowing the steel erection to take place and the phased installation of the parking floors. Once the steel erection is complete, the aluminium artwork façade installation can commence. While the aluminium artwork façade is going up, Willmott Dixon will complete the fit-out and remaining external works. The project is due to complete in summer 2022.

Click here to read a newsletter from Willmott Dixon for residents living near the hospital.

Update – 21 December 2020 

Work will begin on Dorset County Hospital’s much anticipated multi-storey car park in January 2021 to kick-start a major expansion of clinical facilities. Read more here.

Update – 15 September 2020

We are delighted to announce that Dorset Council’s Northern Area Planning Committee has approved our multi-storey car park planning application.

DCH’s Director of Strategy, Transformation and Partnerships Nick Johnson said: “We are delighted with the decision and very grateful to the local councillors for so carefully considering our application and recognising the importance of this development for our hospital and local people. In coming to their decision they recognised that the social and economic benefits of the first phase of our site development plans significantly outweigh any harm to local heritage and landscape. We’d also like to commend the planning officers for their professional and balanced advice.

“We are really excited to now be able to forge ahead with our plans to build the multi-storey car park to free up space on the site for expanding essential clinical services and creating a hospital fit for the future for years to come.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to pass on a huge thank you to all the local people and our local partners who showed their support for our development plans in the run up to the committee meeting. Over 3,000 local residents signed the online Register of Support and many people took the time to write comments of support which were really heartening to receive.”

Update – 14 August 2020

Public urged to show their support for hospital development plans

Clinicians at Dorset County Hospital are asking local residents to register their support for the first phase of plans to expand key clinical facilities on the Dorchester site.

The plans include the expansion of the Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as well as the establishment of an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset’s Clinical Services Review.

Dorset County Hospital has been allocated £62.5million of Government funding for the expansion plans as part of the national Health Infrastructure Plan and the project has been recognised as a priority.

The first phase of the development is freeing up land on the hospital site by building a multi-storey car park.

The planning application for the multi-storey car park, submitted in October 2019, was due to be heard by the Northern Area Planning Committee on 18 August 2020 but has since been delayed as the committee is no longer being held. The earliest the application can now be heard is 15 September 2020 at the next scheduled committee meeting.

In the meantime, the hospital is keen to demonstrate public support for the plans to strengthen the planning application.

Clinicians at the hospital say the plans are crucial to providing safe and high quality services into the future as, despite the best efforts of their teams, they are struggling to accommodate the rising number of patients they are treating – with the coronavirus outbreak making it clearer than ever that more space is needed.

Emergency Department Clinical Lead Dr Steve Meek said: “The Emergency Department was built for seeing 20,000 people a year and we saw 50,000 last year, so it was dated and cramped for space even before COVID-19.

“In particular, our paediatric facilities, resuscitation area and mental health room are no longer adequate. A visiting NHS dignitary told me last year that she was ‘impressed how the skilled and dedicated ED team worked around these issues to deliver great care, without complaint’.

“The pandemic has added a new layer of problems, with social distancing in waiting rooms, and a permanent need to design facilities in ways which better protect the vulnerable and prevent infection.

“Our long awaited chance to build a new modern Emergency Department, to meet the needs and expectations of West Dorset residents, must not be thrown away.”

Consultant in Anaesthetics and Critical Care Medicine Dr Ian Mew added: “It is essential that we are able to expand our clinical footprint to deliver the critical care and emergency care that our population require.

“With the increasing housing development in the west of Dorset, the movement of patients towards Dorchester as a result of the Clinical Services Review and the surges from tourism, we need to keep up with demand without compromising care.

“COVID-19 has had a massive impact on our ability to deliver ‘normal’ hospital services and this is largely due to having to take over other areas of the hospital to provide intensive care to our population when they need it the most.

“This is a very serious matter – it really is a life or death situation. The Government recognise this which is why we have been allocated the money to redevelop. I am confident that the healthcare of our population will be held in very high regard by the planning authority when it comes to enabling Dorset County Hospital to expand our clinical facilities – which depends on successful planning approval for the multi-storey car park.”

Update – 30 July 2020

Dorset County Hospital has been allocated £62.5million of Government funding to expand key clinical services on its Dorchester site.

At a meeting of Dorset County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust’s Board yesterday (29 July 2020), members heard that the money had been allocated to DCH as part of the national Health Infrastructure Plan and the project had been recognised as a priority.

The plans include the expansion of the Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as well as the establishment of an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset’s Clinical Services Review.

The first phase of the development is freeing up land on the hospital site by building a multi-storey car park. Board members were told that the planning application for the multi-storey, which was submitted to Dorset Council in October 2019, is due to be heard at the Northern Area Planning Committee on 18 August 2020.

The hospital’s Director of Strategy, Transformation and Partnerships Nick Johnson said: “We are delighted to have been allocated £62.5million of Government funding for the development of these essential clinical facilities and named as a national priority project.

“However, before we can progress with this major building programme we need to free up space on the hospital site by constructing a multi-storey car park to accommodate the lost spaces and improve parking for patients, visitors and staff.

“Anyone visiting our hospital knows that parking has been an issue for many years so we simply cannot build on our car parks without replacing the spaces. We’re committed to green travel but many people coming to our hospital need to travel by car – the public transport links from rural areas of Dorset are simply not adequate.

“The development of these clinical facilities is vital to make sure we are able to continue to meet the ever increasing demand on our services and secure the future of Dorset County Hospital for a generation to come.

“Our existing Emergency Department and ICU were not built to accommodate the volume of patients we are seeing now. Our clinical teams have responded magnificently to the additional challenges coronavirus has brought, but it is now more clear than ever that we must create additional space and facilities to ensure the safety of our patients. The ED and ICU have been crucial to our COVID-19 response and have had to be temporarily expanded during the outbreak.

“As well as improving healthcare services for our population we are also committed to our role in benefitting the local economy. We will work closely with our contractors to make sure local people are employed and local suppliers are used for our building programme, bringing over £4million into the local economy. We are also planning to develop other land on our site for affordable housing local key workers.

“Building the multi-storey is the first phase of this ambitious, once-in-a-lifetime development and the key to unlocking the expansion of clinical services.”

Artist’s impressions of the proposed multi-storey car park which will be the first phase of a multi-million pound development of the hospital site. Three sides of the building feature images of local landscapes:

multi-storey visual 1 web
multi-storey visual 2 web

Update – 15 November 2019

Our planning application documents have now been added to the Dorset Council planning portal. You can click here to view them. There are over 70 documents on this planning portal – a good place to start is the Design and Access Statement Part 1.

Comments are invited and the deadline for submitting them is 17 December 2019. We have put together a document which addresses many of the comments and queries we have already received following our public engagement which you may find helpful – you can click here to read it.

Update – 21 October 2019

Hospital submits multi-storey car park planning application

multistorey picture

Dorset County Hospital (DCH) has submitted a planning application to build a multi-storey car park as part of its plans to develop clinical facilities on its Dorchester site.

The hospital wants to expand its Emergency Department (ED) and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) as well as establish an Integrated Care Hub as part of a long-term project to deliver the recommendations of Dorset’s Clinical Services Review (CSR), which stated that DCH will continue to be an emergency and planned hospital for its communities.

In order to free up space on the site for the development of clinical facilities, the hospital is proposing to build a multi-storey car park to improve parking for patients, visitors and staff. It is also working in partnership to develop the land it owns on the site of the former Damers School and the current Trust Headquarters to raise income to contribute to the cost of the clinical facilities building work. The future development of the Damers/Trust HQ land could include a mix of health and care related facilities and housing.

Local residents, councillors and hospital staff were invited to hear more about the plans during engagement events held in July. The views, ideas and concerns gathered have fed into the planning application.

Dorset County Hospital’s Director of Strategy, Transformation and Partnerships Nick Johnson said: “We really appreciate people taking the time to find out more about our plans and to give us their valuable feedback. We have since further developed our plans for the multi-storey to take this on board.

“We were heartened to receive a lot of positive feedback about the plans to expand our clinical facilities. There was also a lot of support for developing affordable housing and improving car parking facilities for patients, visitors and staff.

“The main concern raised was the visual impact of the multi-storey, particularly for people living in Damers Road. We have now developed a design to incorporate some innovative green walls so vegetation will grow on the building to help soften the look of it. We have also changed the plans to remove an area of parking on the southern edge of the multi-storey so that the building is further away from Damers Road and we can retain a greater number of existing trees to help with screening.”

Building the multi-storey is the first phase of the hospital’s longer-term plans to develop the site.

Nick Johnson explained: “Our Emergency Department now deals with twice as many patients as it was originally designed to cope with. Demand is only going to rise in the future so we need to expand and redesign the department to make it fit for purpose.

“Similarly, our Intensive Care Unit needs to be expanded so we can cope with the increased demand and provide care in the best environment possible.

“Building the multi-storey car park will free up the space we need on our site to expand ED and ICU and create an Integrated Care Hub. The hub will bring staff and services together on site to allow us to get patients home safely in a timely way as well as help avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.

“The multi-storey project will also have a positive impact on the local economy as we are committed to adding social value to our community. We will be asking contractors to employ local people and use local suppliers wherever possible.”​