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Survey finds biodiversity an integral aspect of new Velindre Cancer Centre

As part of its collaboration with Gower based social enterprise, Down To Earth, Velindre University NHS Trust (VUNHST) found in its digital conversation survey that the biggest priority for respondents for the new Velindre Cancer Centre was enhancing biodiversity and natural design principles. The survey, which took place during summer 2021, received more than 500 responses – 35% being staff and 32% from the local community. 

The digital conversation focused on the update reference design for the new cancer centre, which will provide feedback for the two consortia bidders – Future Health and Acorn – who have recently (September 2021) begun the competitive dialogue process with VUNHST. 

Respondents believed that wildflower planting would be the most important way to enable nature to thrive and improve the biodiversity on the new cancer centre site, closely followed by creating space for nature without people. 

Two-thirds of the respondents liked the landscape features that have been developed as part of the updated reference design. The survey also found that more than 180 respondents would like to see the new cancer centre include a green roof, as well as 205 people wanting the centre’s internal features to prioritise natural light. 
These design features will play a key part in the ongoing discussions with the consortia as they look to improve and enhance the updated reference design.

David Powell, project director for the new Velindre Cancer Centre project, said: “The digital conversation in the summer was an opportunity for us to engage with and explore the views of our staff, patients and community regarding the updated reference design for the new cancer centre project. 

“The new cancer centre aims to be the greenest hospital and the feedback from this survey will play a crucial part within the competitive dialogue with our two bidders, as it means we can ensure that those views are incorporated into our design discussions and we build a campus that is truly reflective.”
Mark McKenna, co-founder and managing director of Down to Earth, said: “This survey with staff, patients and the wider community shows how important it is that Wales’ next generation of hospital infrastructure is designed around natural design principles – embracing natural materials, natural lighting and putting biodiversity enhancement throughout the entire design concept. The new Felindre Cancer Centre will demonstrate what is possible for all future hospitals in Wales when we aspire to deliver the greenest possible solutions for vital public sector infrastructure.”

The digital conversation also sought to gain feedback around the community benefits, which saw 62% of respondents state that this should be considered as a long term initiative – between five and twenty years – with environment and nature being the primary focus. The survey also found that 58% believe that these benefits should incorporate the needs of VUNHST patients and staff, as well as the local community.

The digital conversation is a collaboration which has been funded through the Enabling Natural Resources and Well-being (ENRaW) programme. ENRaW is part of the Welsh Government Rural Development programme which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government.

More information about the new Velindre Cancer Centre project and ongoing opportunities for people to get involved, can be found here: