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Livingstone vows to kill 'awful' London hospital

Ken Livingstone's planning department has put in jeopardy HOK's plans for a massive new PFI hospital in London's Whitechapel.

The Greater London Authority's (GLA) head of planning, Giles Dolphin, has warned that the mayor will direct refusal on the Royal London scheme unless 'very significant' improvements are made to the designs.

Dolphin savaged the proposed project, adding that there was a 'distinct possibility' the mayor would turn it down whatever changes are made.

'We have been consulted on the scheme and have produced a report, ' he told the AJ, 'and the mayor is definitely minded to turn it down. To be honest, even if we managed to get some of the improvements we want, it is difficult to imagine that we will support it because it is so awful.

'It is hard to work out where this has gone wrong.

There are two schemes on this PFI deal - this one and Barts - and the other is excellent. There seems to be no reason why this should be so bad, ' he added.

If HOK's 950-bed proposal does get the green light it will involve the construction with Skanska of the largest PFI hospital in the UK to date.

But the project came under further fire last week after a report from CABE's Design Review Committee savaged the designs. The report slammed the project for being too constrained and cramped due to the very limited site. It also criticised the 'form and bulk' and savaged the proposed planning, circulation and navigation of HOK's designs.

A Design Review spokesman agreed with Dolphin's comments, adding that the project was not up to the standard expected of modern public-sector construction.

'A hospital of this size and prominence ought to be an exemplar of the public sector's commitment to high design standards through the Better Public Buildings programme and a plausible candidate for the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award, ' the spokesman said. 'We think that this design fails to reach that standard.' A statement issued on behalf of the client - Barts and The London NHS Trust - confirmed that it had 'received a report from the GLA regarding the proposed design of the Royal London Hospital'.

'The trust will need time to digest it and reach a considered view, which we will discuss with the GLA at the earliest possible opportunity, ' the statement said. 'We are hopeful we will be able to reach a satisfactory conclusion.'

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