A NEW coronavirus testing centre is coming to a car park at the Royal Blackburn Hospital.

It comes after Deloitte MTS on behalf of the Government have approached Blackburn with Darwen Council to see if they could use 200 car parking spaces at Old Bank Lane car park for the COVID-19 test centre primarily for people who live and work in the borough.

The news was revealed as council chiefs approved the plan under delegated powers by officers on Friday.

In the report it said: "The testing centre at Old Bank Lane car park will occupy 200 car spaces and can provide COVID-19 tests for up to 1,000 people a day. Deloitte MTS will be responsible for erecting all temporary structures and equipment, along with staffing and securing the site.

"These arrangements are all enshrined within a Heads of Terms document and a six-month lease for an agreed section of Old Bank Lane car park.

"The remainder of the car park (around.300 spaces) will be available for permit users, many of whom work at the Hospital and for patients and visitors to the Hospital who would pay and display to park on site."

Hospital bosses say that the scheme would not affect income from parking as plans are to taking steps to minimise the number of staff, patients and visitors to reduce the spread of the virus.

They include non-clinical staff continuing to work from home, appointment times for patients will be spread over seven days and over extended hours each day to reduce the number of patients in waiting rooms and treatment rooms at any one time and the rotas worked by clinical staff will be amended to accommodate medical appointments taking place into the early evening and at weekends.

It added: "There will be less people on the Hospital site at the same time and this will reduce the demand for car parking spaces at Old Bank Lane car park.

"Officers from the Highways service do not believe a ‘borough’ testing centre will create traffic and parking issues around the Hospital... and the number of tests could be reduced if needed by reducing the number of bookings available at particular times of the day."

Deloitte looked at an alternative site at the former Darwen Moorland High School site but it would require groundworks to complete up to 1,000 tests a day.

In the report it said the council would have had been responsible for 'undertaking and paying for the ground works' which would cost around.£15,000.

The location of the site was also a cause for concern as it is located adjacent to a large housing

estate and the site is in relatively close proximity to Goosehouse Lane, a major arterial road which

carries a lot of traffic.