BEAUTIFUL, transformational and phenomenal – just some of the words used by planning chiefs to describe blueprints for a brand new £450m hospital complex in Leeds city centre

Leeds City councillors approved in principle early plans for a radical revamp of the Leeds General Infirmary site, which would include new children’s and adults’ hospitals.

A Council report claimed the new facilities would provide 92,000 square metres of “focused healthcare space” in a building of “up to 15 storeys”.

And, following a presentation from the applicants, members of the authority’s city plans panel unanimously agreed to proceed with the plans, which could lead to the new hospitals being open within the next few years.

Representative of applicants Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS trust Mike Bacon told the meeting: “We are at a very early stage in terms of design and development. We have a four to five year development in a number of stages.

“We have a process to build the new hospital which we would hope to be open at the end of 2025.” 

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Coun Graham Latty (Con) warned: “It’s beautiful, but people who are poorly don’t want that cavernous space around them. They want to feel comfortable and protected.

“Are you going to make it feel like a hospital and not John Lewis?

“We have a fixation with green things in this council – we want green walls, we want ferns hanging here and there, so please tell me you are not aiming to put Kew Gardens inside this hospital.”

Mr Bacon responded: “I don’t profess to try and answer that because I am not a designer and there will be a number of different views.

“It’s a major city centre development, so it will be for a lot of patient types. We want to address those who are in there for long term conditions, who may want to feel like they are at home.

“But we still need to get the right environment for clinical and non clinical feels.”

He added that research done with children during work on Alder Hay Children’s Hospital in Liverpool said patients were in fact keen to have a hospital that “did not feel like a hospital”.

Coun Peter Carlil (Lab) said: “I would disagree with my colleague, I would love there to be Kew Gardens in the hospital.

“Some patients are there for a long time, and it may have a benefit to those patients getting better.”

The outline planning application was to demolish parts of Leeds General Infirmary, and replace them with “state of the art” adult and children’s healthcare facilities and a multi-storey car park.

The hospitals are also expected a new maternity unit, as well as increased capacity for operations and critical care – including neurosurgery and cardiac surgery.

Plans were originally submitted by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust back in March, and were part of the NHS’s Hospitals of the Future programme –  a 10-year piece of work to transform healthcare for patients in the region.

Coun Paul Wadsworth (Con) asked: “Is the money nailed on, and are you definitely going to build it?”

Mr Bacon warned that his response would be short and diplomatic due to pre-election purdah rules, but said: “On funding – we are in a position to move along with our development subject to planning consent.”

During comments by members, Coun David Blackburn (Green) said: “You can make something really special and good, so i support this.”

Coun Dan Cohen (Con) added: “It’s a really really strong proposal. It will be a landmark for the city and getting two new hospitals is phenomenal.”

“The multi storey car park does need to be there. People need them to visit relatives at unsociable hours, otherwise we would need a birthing section on the buses.”

Coun Latty said: “What interests me most is the hospital and its place in this quarter.

“Whatever you build and what you are showing us, it is certainly going in the right direction. I love the idea of one hospital in one place and it places Leeds firmly on the children’s health map.”

He added concerns, however, that too many large buildings in Leeds’s “civic quarter” could risk “dwarfing” Civic Hall.

Coun Peter Gruen (Lab): “I was very excited when we saw the pre application – the scheme is totally transformational, it is in the city centre, and we are absolutely are going to see the benefit.

“2025 is a long way away, and I think we should get on and allow this application to move forward as quickly as possible.

“Get on with it, well done, and let’s have something soon.”