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Dental Hospital opening delayed by four months

The new hospital on the former BBC Pebble Mill site in Edgbaston was due to open this month

The new dental hospital at Pebble Mill

The opening of Birmingham’s new state-of-the art Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry is to be delayed by four months due to what have been described as “challenges with the construction programme”.

The new hospital on the former BBC Pebble Mill site in Edgbaston was due to open this month – to coincide with the start of the autumn term at the University of Birmingham – but has now been put back until January 2016.

The facility is the first stand-alone dental hospital and dental school in the UK for 40 years.

Work on the £50 million project, which will replace the current 50-year-old facility next door to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in St Chad’s Circus, started in October 2013.

The development is a partnership between Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust, the University of Birmingham and Birmingham, Solihull LIFT (BaS LIFT) and Calthorpe Estates.

Granted planning permission by Birmingham City Council in December 2012 it forms a key element of the new Edgbaston Medical Quarter and is seen as a vital component in enhancing Birmingham’s growing reputation as a hub of medicine, learning and life sciences.

The four-storey dental hospital and school of dentistry will by the new home for the University of Birmingham’s College of Medical and Dental Sciences’ School of Dentistry.

It will also house a range of services for the public, including walk-in emergency dental care, restorative, oral surgery, oral medicine, orthodontics and paediatric dentistry.

All dental services accessed by the public will be in one wing of the building with a second wing providing research facilities and a learning environment for more than 600 undergraduate and postgraduate students and trainees.

The new hospital is expected to employ around 450 people and treat more than 100,000 patients each year.

Speaking to the Post about the delay to the project, a spokesman for Birmingham Dental Hospital said: “Due to a number of challenges with the construction programme, a decision has been taken by all partners to reschedule the opening of the new Birmingham Dental Hospital and School of Dentistry.

“This has been agreed in order to minimise disruption and maintain continuity of service for patients, students and staff.

“All partners are working closely to finalise the opening date and to deliver what will be the UK’s first integrated, stand-alone dental hospital and dental school for almost 40 years.

“In the meantime, patients should continue to attend the existing dental hospital in St Chad’s Queensway.”

It is thought the new facility will be ready in advance of its January opening but partners have decided against moving students in the middle of a term.

The new site was chosen for several reasons, among them the fact it is close to the main University of Birmingham campus.

But it is also one of strategic importance at the heart of Birmingham’s life sciences economic zone around the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. It is one of six economic zones being developed across the city, which it is hoped will attract £1.5 billion of investment and create up to 50,000 jobs.

Calthorpe Estates’ 27-acre Pebble Mill scheme, which is bordered by the Bristol Road and Pershore Road, is also set to include a 35,000 sq ft, 62 bed en-suite care home developed by Bupa Care Homes and private hospital operator Circle Health has taken part of the site to build a 161,400 sq ft hospital.

The final quarter of the scheme has yet to be announced but in 2014 Calthorpe Estates was granted planning consent for a 53,800 sq ft healthcare facility on the fourth plot.

Plans for the new Dental Hospital won Government backing in June 2012, when the Department of Health approved the ambitious scheme.

At that point it was hoped the new facility might be open for patients and students in 2014.

When plans were put forward to Birmingham City Council’s planning committee in December 2012 the building was likened to a former Soviet Bloc structure by one councillor but were approved nonetheless after planning officers agreed to work with architects to ensure the design was improved.

Welcoming the scheme, the chief dental officer for England Barry Cockcroft, said: “This demonstrates the confidence people have in the university and NHS teams in Birmingham to deliver quality education for dental students and services for patients.

“The design of the building is innovative and will provide a great opportunity to integrate dental treatment, learning and research in a state-of-the-art environment.”

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