15 May 2014

Council's permission for new ambulance base at Falmer

Permission has been granted for a new ambulance base at Falmer, next to Brighton’s new public records office The Keep (May 14 2014).

The location, Woollard’s Field, is a former school playing field deemed surplus in 1990.

It would provide the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust with a Make Ready Centre (MRC), where crews would report for shifts and get vehicles ready for duty.  There would be facilities for storage, administration, vehicle maintenance, training and education.

Around 300 people would work on site including crews, mechanics, office workers and back-up staff.  Ambulances would not be sent on emergencies from the base.  Instead they operate from smaller response posts elsewhere.  It means sirens or blue flashing lights would not generally be heard or seen at the location.

It would operate 24 hours a day, all week.

Parking for 87 cars and 34 ambulances would be provided in an area landscaped with new trees and shrubs.

The new two-storey rectangular building would be clad mainly in zinc, with areas of glazed tiles to the ground floor, broken up with windows.  It would be about 10.5m high, some three metres lower than The Keep.

The ambulance service says the base is essential to replace an inadequate depot at the Brighton General Hospital site at the top of Elm Grove.

It would serve response posts at Seven Dials, Hollingbury, Brighton General, Peacehaven, Lewes, Shoreham, Hove, Burgess Hill and Haywards Heath.  Ambulance bosses say they favour the site because of its good road links via the A27 and A23.

Under an agreement with the planning authority, almost £40,000 would be paid by the ambulance service for sustainable transport improvements in the area.  Twenty percent of the construction workforce would have to be locals.

Chair of the planning committee Cllr Phélim Mac Cafferty said:  “I welcome this new start for the South East Coast Ambulance Service. The new development at Woollard’s Field means we retain hundreds of health jobs in the city and provide a modern convenient facility for the University of Brighton’s paramedic training courses. This is a good site for road transport links so crucial to an efficient ambulance service. I’m sure most people would regard this as an excellent use for this site.”