Saturday, 21 February 2009

Garston Hospital update

This is a quick update on the situation re plans for the rebuilding/development/demolition of Garston Hospital (Sir Alfred Jones Memorial). The PCT (local health service) has put in two planning applications. One is for the demolition and building work and the other is for use of the site for the demolition (car park for workers etc). There is still time for comments re the second one. However there has since been an application to English Heritage for "spot listing" which is basically a way of getting listed building status quickly and therefore stopping certain types of activity - including major changes and demolition. The result of this should be through in six weeks or so. If the building is spot listed the PCT is now saying they will look elsewhere in South Liverpool for a site for the services they were going to start running on the Garston site. I am reporting this with no comment as I don't know how realistic that statement is as it clearly depends on what other sites are avaialable in the area that fit the various criteria identified for that level of provision. I'll be keeping in touch with these developments and will update via the blog when I can.

1 comment:

PM Swimmer said...

My personal view is that it will be a complete tragedy if this building were to be demolished, especially to build some ugly and poor quality pfi funded nonsense.

The hospital along with the now demolished Garston Hotel (the library whilst architecturally better and the only local building noted by Pevsner is in Cressington) is one of a very small number of visually distinct land mark buildings which identify Garston as a separate and distinct village, as opposed to a mundane suburban extension of Liverpool. These buildings announce to you that you are somewhere separate, with its own history and reason for being which made it worthy of having services such as a hospital or a grand hotel. These are markers which unconsciously tell you that somewhere might be worth stopping the car and having look at. They tell you there might be a restaurant or a pub worth a visit or park or cemetery with some historical significance. They are worth a hundred crap visitor centres or community arts projects or silly council marketing campaigns in terms of their economic impact.

Why is this so important, because unlike areas such as aigburth and much of allerton, garston village isn't actually a suburban extension and therefore doesn't have predominantly 1920-50s houses with the requisite gardens and garages which attract people, so in order for it to grow and prosper it has to offer an urban village type of image. Think Lark lane, chorlton in Manchester maybe even stoke-newington in London. A mix of quirky shops, restartaunts, slightly higher density housing (though without being small modern flats which ONLY work in the city centre, offered by the high quality Victorian terraces ( so hated by this local council), access to green space and a distinct local character.

To do this it needs local landmarks which offer historical context and character and a vibrant, local and warm high street. Therefore the NHS's should have a responsibility to find a solution which preserves this building and the council should have a responsibility to protect the high street and particularly the fabric of the buildings from developers who will, if there was money around, tell you its best just to knock them down and build something out of cheap render and glass.

I realise that I've said this before and that generally this council sees progress as being what ever property developers tell them it is but I live in hope that in responding here someone might take notice.

This isn't about blind faith in the preservation of Victoriana but in understanding what you have, why you have it and what you can realistically do with it and anyone that tells you that replacing a building style which is reflected in 90% of the surrounding buildings and replacing it with something modern, significantly out or proportion and which will be built at the low possible price is obviously lying to you and if the council had brains or integrity would be shown the door, with the rare exceptions where their names might be Alsop, Rodgers or Foster and even they can get this sort of thing wrong.