RED tape and rigorous planning protocols are getting in the way of improvement work starting in the closed car park at Cirencester Hospital, according to the Dowager Countess Bathurst.

The car park, which was shut without warning by the Dowager in October, was expected to reopen in the following weeks with new ticket barriers and payment machines.

However, in the four months since its closure, the gravel topped car park, located just metres from the hospital entrance, has remained closed with no sign of improvement work having taken place.

Speaking this week, the Dowager said: “Further to your article published on Thursday, February 13 regarding my car park in Cirencester, I wish to clarify our position,” she said.

“Works have been stalled on the car park due to the fact that, after a meeting with Cotswold District Council, it was discovered that we need to have planning consent as we wish to level and re-surface the car park and install kerbing, barriers and pay machines.”

She also said that, during this time, it was discovered that permission for any work would need to be granted by English Heritage as the car park was protected by ancient monument restrictions.

Plans are now being drawn up by the Dowager’s team ready to be submitted to CDC’s planning team for approval.

“All this takes time and while we have every good intention to make a decent, safe and proper car park, we have to go through the proper channels to do so,” she added.

Doctors and nurses at the hospitals were left with nowhere to park in October after the Dowager reportedly refused to renew the lease on the car park.

Gloucestershire Care Services NHS Trust has since built a new car park at the hospital that remains free for all staff to use.