Building over hospital surface car parks could both help to cure the NHS’s key worker crisis and remedy its shortage of move on accommodation, a Stirling prize shortlisted architect told our Healthcare Estates Development Forum.

Bill Dunster, whose Bedzed housing development in Sutton was on the shortlist for the Royal Institute of British Architects prize in 2003, outlined his proposals for making better use of the UK’s 1.2m surface car parking spaces.

Under his practice’s proposals, the parking lots would be covered by rafts which lightweight units could sit on. The rooves of the highlight insulated and cross laminated timber units would be covered in solar panels slashing their occupants’ energy bills, and each unit could either be used for housing or move-on accommodation for patients – big enough to accommodate two parking spaces underneath.

Dunster said: ‘’If you build over land that was not previously used for that function you could look at creating additional NHS accommodation that could help with bed blocking and get extra care accommodation very close to the intensive care wards. More efficient use of land can get an awful long way to meeting requirements for NHS accommodation.’’

He also said that by using retail car parks, new NHS facilities could be created in the heart of local communities where people already go: ‘’It is also possible to turn rather barren tarmac deserts into something more appealing.’’