A GOVERNMENT minister has pledged to help in the fight to stop hundreds of homes being built in Milton.
Care and support minister Norman Lamb will see if the NHS can keep healthcare at St James’ Hospital and not sell off all the site for new properties.
Patient care is being moved to St Mary’s Hospital and plans are in place to put 370 family properties at the St James’ site.
It is a move that hopes to cut down health costs in the city.
But Mr Lamb, a Lib Dem, has agreed to look at how the land can be better used on the back of a letter he was sent by Milton councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson.
He said he was pleased the campaign to protect the St James’ site had received ministerial backing.
‘I asked the minister to look at the NHS decision to pull out of St James’ and locate almost all of their services in St Mary’s,’ said the Lib Dem.
‘This is a flawed decision. Mental health services are better provided in a quiet, calm and green environment like St James’.
‘There is also lots of car parking at St James’ but parking at St Mary’s is a nightmare.
‘He promised to look at this and I’m grateful that the minister is taking an interest.’
Cllr Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council, approved the support but said it could be potentially ‘too late’ as the Lib Dems agreed to 90 per cent of the land being used for homes when in power.
‘I welcome the intervention of any government minister with regards to retaining healthcare provision at the St James’ site,’ she said.
‘I hope it’s not going to be too late because this should have been done in 2006 and again in 2013 when 90 per cent of the land was allocated for housing.’
Meanwhile, the council has trained residents to carry out their own traffic survey around the St James’ site to check whether the one landowner NHS Property Services Ltd carried out was sound.
The firm did not think there would be an adverse impact should an influx of new homes go in.
Kimberly Barrett is head of the Keep Milton Green campaign and one of around 40 volunteers involved in the new survey.
She said: ‘Because there are so many of us we are looking to get a very accurate result which we can give to the council.’