Green light for new High Wycombe ambulance hub proposal

A state-of-the-art new ambulance resource facility in High Wycombe could be on the cards thanks to a creative new partnership between Buckinghamshire Council and South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).

The proposal, which got the green light from Buckinghamshire Council's Cabinet today (20 July), could see the new development built on the demolished former Orchard House site just off Cressex Link, subject to a successful planning application.

The agreement would see the Council, which owns the 1.4 acre site, build a sustainable and environmentally focused new facility to SCAS’s design and specification. SCAS would then lease the facility through a long-term rental arrangement.

Providing new office and working accommodation for crews, management office space and improved facilities for the cleaning and re-provisioning of emergency ambulances, as well as ambulances used for transporting patients, the facilities would help SCAS meet required response times and improve services to better meet patient needs.

The completed new building would replace the smaller, outdated ambulance station in West End Street which is no longer fit for purpose and beyond economic improvement.

Sensitive to concerns about ‘blues and two’s’ in a residential area, the Council and SCAS point out that emergency ambulances operate from designated 'standby points' which are better located to be ready to respond quickly to emergencies and would only return to the hub for replenishment and cleaning.

Most of the vehicles using the hub would be patient transport vehicles that are not fitted with lights or sirens Any disturbance to residents living near the proposed new centre would be minimal with most of the activity taking place during normal working hours.

MP for Wycombe, Steve Baker said: "I am delighted to welcome this much needed investment in our ambulance service and the NHS. High Wycombe deserves great infrastructure and I hope this important improvement will help lift the spirits of our hard-working ambulance staff. Congratulations to Buckinghamshire Council officials and councillors on making this possible.

"Everyone in South Central Ambulance Service and all our blue light services deserve our thanks and admiration for all they have done throughout the pandemic to look after us all."

Buckinghamshire Council Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, Angela Macpherson said the proposal showed just what two innovative and forward-thinking public service providers could do together to improve services for Buckinghamshire residents.

"This is one of those win/win arrangements that meets both organisations' objectives but above all will mean a better service in the future for anyone needing ambulance services in the local area.

"When people need an ambulance its often serious and potentially life-threatening, so as public organisations, it's important we contribute to the delivery of new solutions if we can. We think our Cressex Link site fits the bill and also ensures we make the best use our land assets and generate a future income stream for the Council. We look forward to working with SCAS colleagues to develop this exciting new venture."

South Central Ambulance Service Chief Executive Will Hancock added: “This is a really exciting development which will increase our capacity, provide a better working environment for staff and will ensure we can deliver the best possible care for patients in the area.

“The proposed site is in an excellent location and, with larger and enhanced facilities, will support our staff in turning vehicles around quickly so they can get back on the road without delay.

Will continued: “We are grateful to the council for its support and look forward to working with the team in the coming months, as well as engaging with residents about the benefits of this proposal.”

Both organisations also say they were very keen to ensure the site was suitable and were satisfied that the way an ambulance resource centre operates would mean little disruption for anyone living nearby. As part of both organisations' commitment to reducing carbon emissions, the design will include proposals for high levels of insulation, heating using a specialist environmentally friendly heat pump and the provision of numerous electric vehicle charging points.

Following today's decision, both organisations will begin work to develop the necessary planning application for the proposal. This will include extensive public consultation with the local community to make sure everyone's views are heard and fully taken into consideration.

Supporting the Council will be property consultants, Carter Jonas with Bomford Estates acting for South Central Ambulance Service.

Read the full Cabinet report.

Photo of the current Orchard House site

The current former Orchard House site.