Five high-profile architects have made it on to the shortlist to redesign the controversial St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London.
The firms have been selected for the shortlist following the collapse of the proposed £1bn Paddington Health Campus in June. St Mary’s had been one of three partners set to join forces to create a PFI superhospital on the site in Paddington Basin. The scheme fell through when Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust refused to approve the business case for the hospital.
A spokesperson at St Mary's Trust said it had not yet decided whether the redesigned hospital will be run as a PFI scheme. She said the outline business case for the project needed to be approved before it would consider financing options.
If the trust did decide to go with PFI at a later date, it would be the first example of “smart PFI” – a RIBA-backed model where designs are drawn upfront before a preferred bidder is appointed.
Mike Nightingale, chairman of Nightingale Associates, said St Mary’s was a key project and it was more likely to succeed since it had been scaled down. He said: “We’ve been involved on and off in the chequered history of this project so we’re really going to go for it. It’s a key London hospital and now has a much better chance of succeeding because it has a better scale on it.
It’s had a few false starts, but it seems the groundwork has been done right this time
Mike Nightingale, chairman, Nightingale Associates
“It’s never straightforward with PFI, and it’s had a few false starts, but it seems the groundwork has been done right this time. It’s an exciting shortlist of experienced architects who are going to have a good go at it.”
The Paddington Health Campus was the second biggest of the NHS’ PFI projects, after the St Bartholomew’s and Royal London Hospitals scheme in east London. About £14m of public money was spent on its development before it was axed. St Mary’s Hospital is the first of the three original partners to undergo a redesign since the collapse of the scheme.
A preferred designer will be chosen from the five firms in December, when a cost consultant will also be appointed. The development will be presented to the board of St Mary’s NHS Trust next April for approval.