Is ambitious plan for Haslar any more than a pipedream?

STEVE CANAVAN: Take note of why I love this country so much

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The silence had been deafening. For a long time there has been hardly a peep from the firm behind the redevelopment of the Haslar Hospital site at Gosport. Peeps of any significance that is.

Then, out of the blue, an appeal for investors appears on a government website.

We, like the majority of Gosport people keen to retain the integrity of the imposing 274-year-old building, are becoming anxious.

We, along with many others, raised our eyebrows when Our Enterprise Haslar bought the land for £3m in 2009 – a year into the then deepening recession.

As we report on page 7 today, community leaders are again beginning to question the viability of the scheme.

Councillor Peter Edgar, who was one of the leading lights in the campaign to prevent the hospital’s closure, wonders if the development has a future.

He says: ‘They were given planning permission last summer so the fact they still need investors is a worry.

‘When they took over the site, they should have known it would be very, very difficult to develop on because of the cost. I am very worried.’

Our Enterprise, for its part, has come forward to say the appeal for investors is a mistake and that it will be asking the government to take the website down as soon as possible.

But nevertheless it has served a purpose insofar as it has raised the profile of the troubled development once again.

Haslar’s closure in 2009 came despite fierce opposition by Gosport residents.

Then came an application for outline planning permission to give the buildings that new lease of life.

That included affordable housing, one hotel, a 60-bed care home, 244 retirement units and a restaurant and bar.

Ambitious, certainly. What we now need to know, urgently, is if this enthusiastic plan is no more than a pipedream.