St Mary’s NHS Trust looks at using developer Chelsfield’s land for ailing PFI scheme in Paddington, London

A land swap deal is being considered as a solution to the problems besetting plans to build a £800m PFI “health campus” in Paddington, west London.

The scheme’s client, St Mary’s NHS Trust, said it was looking at using land owned by developer Chelsfield, as predicted in Building last week. In return for this land, which was earmarked for the Richard Rogers-designed Grand Union office building, Chelsfield could be given land owned by the trust.

Julian Nettel, chief executive of St Mary’s hospital, said the new outline business case, which was called for by a government review into the scheme, would consider the option along with other sites. He said: “Using that site offers advantages for build time and site configuration.”

Nettel claimed this option would be better for PFI teams bidding for the scheme. The previous option was to build on the existing St Mary’s site, which does not have planning permission.

He said: “It simplifies the construction process and makes the redevelopment much more attractive to consortiums.” Nettel said £800m would be a “ballpark figure” for the scheme.

Nettel said the option to use the Paddington site would be set against the Fulham Road option, which would base most of the campus on the Royal Brompton hospital site in Chelsea.

He said the new outline business case was ambitious, but that he was “confident we can do this. I do have to make the point that the past four years have not been a complete waste of time. We have put together a vast amount of information for this final exercise”.

The first business case for the project was put forward by NHS trusts proposing the scheme, the Royal Brompton & Harefield and St Mary’s, in November 2000.

A statement released on Monday by the North West London Strategic Health Authority said the project had received the green light from a government review.

Steve Peacock, chief executive of North West London Strategic Health Authority, said: “While we acknowledge that there is still further planning to be done leading up to negotiations with a PFI provider, this green light for the outline business case development is the boost we need to take the project to the next stage.”

His comments came as the National Audit Office, which worked on the review with the Department of Health and the Treasury, said on Wednesday that the review of the outline business case had yet to be finalised.

An NAO spokesperson said: “Any statements about the conclusions are therefore premature.”

The spokesperson added that the review’s conclusions would be published soon but that the timing of the release and how it would be made available were up to the Department of Health.