Hospital shops project is just what doctors ordered

A new welcome centre, including three high quality retail outlets, is being built at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, in a scheme led by Larkstoke Properties Ltd.

Construction work has begun on the impressive centre, which is being funded by the property company and its investment partners with minimal investment from the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust (OUH).

Alongside the three shops it will include new offices for Patient Advice and Liaison Services (PALS), improved reception and waiting areas with electronic information points, as well as new toilets and baby change/feeding rooms.

The development – a concept which could be introduced at hundreds of hospitals with minimal investment from the NHS – will provide the hospital with first class facilities for use by staff, patients and the 16,000 visitors that pass through its doors each day.

If successful, the shops could generate a revenue stream each year for the hospital.

At the heart of the 12,291 sq ft scheme will be a WH Smith newsagents, Marks & Spencer Simply Foods, and a Marks & Spencer Cafe – occupying 4,433 sq ft – with an external seating area. Outside there will be new ambulance bays. Patient drop-off and pick-up laybys will also be installed.

Tim Hurdiss, managing director of Midlands-based Larkstoke Properties, said: “This is an exciting scheme that we have embarked upon, which aims to benefit both the hospital and its patients by significantly enhancing the existing entrance to the hospital and improving the facilities for visitors and patients.”

Larkstoke Properties, with its funding partners, is now actively seeking other similar schemes and has already held exploratory talks with other health trusts.

Larkstoke Properties’ experience includes the arranging, sourcing and structuring of all forms of property funding both speculative and pre-let, bringing forward regeneration projects, master-planning, lettings, sales and delivering true added value.

Mark Trumper, director of development and the estate at OUH, said: “The Welcome Centre is a demonstration of the Trust’s desire to improve income generating opportunities, enhance the quality of the hospital and enhance patient experience, all of which will be delivered at little cost to the Trust.”

Ian Sanders, director of WH Smith Hospitals, said: “Working alongside our retail partners Marks & Spencer, it has been our desire to open new facilities at the John Radcliffe Hospital for a number of years.

“It is great to see the scheme progressing so well and when the units are up and trading in the autumn of this year they will really improve the whole retail experience at the hospital.”

The Welcome Centre should be completed in September 2015. While the construction works are undertaken, the main entrance and reception will be kept open although in temporary positions that will include a new scaffold link-bridge. Beneficial Contracts has been appointed as contractor and started clearing the site in February.