Campaigners appeal for judicial review into approval of cancer hospital business case
Alex Seabrook, local democracy reporter
Campaigners have appealed for a judicial review into the approval of the business case for a new cancer hospital in Cardiff.
The Welsh Government approved the outline business case for the new Velindre Cancer Centre in March this year.
But now a judge is expected over the next few days to decide on whether there is legal merit for a review into that approval to go ahead.
Save the Northern Meadows is challenging the Welsh Government’s decision-making process, including the environmental impact and arguments around the clinical model.
Claimant and campaigner Cat Lewis said: “This is a crucial time. My heart is in my mouth today. We have a big rally of women going to the meadows on Sunday in an act of solidarity. We’re hoping that the right decision will be made for cancer services and the environment.”
The current Velindre hospital is becoming outdated and many in the health community agree a new cancer centre is urgently needed.
But some doctors have argued the new hospital should be built next to a large general hospital like the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), and environmental campaigners have raised concerns about the impact of building the new hospital on the Northern Meadows.
On Thursday, September 16, an order by Mr Justice Johnson was made to place the claims for a review in front of a judge by Monday, September 20, who will decide whether a judicial review can go ahead.
In the order, Mr Justice Johnson said: “I am satisfied that there is now a degree of urgency that merits expediting the case so that a decision is made on permission and cost capping by, or as soon as possible after, September 20.”
Enabling works to prepare the site for construction is expected to begin in the next few weeks, with building work on the hospital itself scheduled to begin in March 2023. The new Velindre Cancer Centre is due to open in summer 2025.
The appeal for a judicial review argues the Welsh Government has a legal duty to maintain and enhance certain habitats and species, some of which are present at the Northern Meadows. It also argues there was a lack of enquiries into co-locating the hospital at UHW.
A Velindre spokesperson said: “We are committed to delivering excellent non-surgical tertiary cancer services for the population of south-east Wales. It would be inappropriate to comment on any potential legal challenge to the plans for a new Velindre Cancer Centre.”
A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “We are unable to comment on live cases.”