A row over parking in a city neighbourhood has been reignited following plans for a new operating suite at the Royal Preston Hospital.
An application has been lodged to build a new two-storey building at the Sharoe Green site, on land currently used as a car park.
But dozens of responses have been received in objection to the proposal, which has now been called in to the city’s planning committee over fears of parking problems.
The proposed development from Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has been recommended for approval, and would create a new vascular and hybrid theatre which has been described as a “world class facility”.
A report to councillors said: “The specialist vascular service and new hybrid theatre would also support the expert specialist trauma service which has been developed at LTHT.
“Patients with severe trauma resulting in vascular injuries (life threatening bleeding) would benefit from the hybrid theatre development as consultants would be able to undertake complex operations under X-ray guidance in a world class facility. There would also be opportunities for other procedures to be accommodated within the hybrid theatre such as complicated obstetric procedures.”
But Nigel Parker, chairman of the Sharoe Green and Sherwood community association, said the group had “grave concerns” over the plans.
He said: “We are very fortunate and very grateful that we have such a fantastic service on the door step.”
But he said the number of parking spaces which could be displaced “are such that it stands to make things even worse around here.”
The report said the applicant had proposed initiatives to prevent worsening the parking situation including at least 90 spaces at the Preston Healthport site off Watling Street Road, which Mr Parker said would be “very welcome”.
Karen Partington, chief executive at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Due to increasing demand and new specialist services, we have submitted a planning application to expand the critical care unit and to provide a specialist vascular service with the proposal for a new hybrid theatre.
“These specialist services are vital for us to ensure that we can provide the very highest standards of care and treatment to people with life threatening conditions.
“There are currently 1,854 car parking spaces for staff and visitors on site at Royal Preston Hospital.
“With the expansion of the critical care unit and the new hybrid theatre, we may lose up to 75 spaces. However we are looking at replacing those 75 spaces elsewhere as well as providing additional spaces.
“We understand that some local residents may be concerned about the reduction in spaces but the hybrid theatre and the critical care expansion is vital for the hospital to continue to run as a regional major trauma centre and our priority has to be ensuring that we have the necessary facilities to treat patients who come here with life threatening conditions.
“We have been working closely with Preston Council and Lancashire County Council during the planning process and will continue to do so.
“As part of the expansion plans we are reviewing the effect on car parking and we are already looking into a range of options, including more off-site parking and a multi-storey car park that could provide up to 580 new spaces.
“While we appreciate that construction work will temporarily reduce on-site parking, investing in a multi-storey car park will ultimately resolve the parking related issues, so we hope that councillors and local residents will appreciate that this is beneficial for everybody concerned in the longer term.”