CONSTRUCTION of new homes is set to start at the old Royal Haslar Hospital site in Gosport.
Phase One of redevelopment is scheduled to begin this month, with many of the old buildings being converted into retirement homes and residential apartments.
In total, 36 retirement homes and eight residential apartments will be created in a project that is being overseen by Our Enterprise.
Caroline Dinenage, Conservative MP for Gosport, says that the reopening of the site is a massive positive for the town.
She said: ‘The Royal Haslar Hospital site is well-loved by many people in Gosport, and is a massive part of the community.
‘I think that the site will be very popular, due in large part to the uninterrupted views across the Solent.’
‘People were absolutely gutted when it was sold for just £2m, when it had been value at over £50m.
‘However, it is now coming to fruition and I think it will be nice to have it back.
‘I know a couple of people that have already put their names down for accommodation there, so it just goes to show how important this site is for local residents.
‘It’s massive for us. It is housing but there is also a healthcare element to the site.’
Conservative Councillor for Alverstoke Peter Edgar was one of those who led the campaign to save the Royal Haslar before it shut.
He says that there was a big obstacle for developers to overcome on the site.
He explained: ‘The latest promises are absolutely great news, but interestingly they’re not much different to what was proposed soon after the site closed.
‘It was because of massive conservational issues and planning difficulties that it didn’t sell for a great amount of money.
‘There are thousands of graves and trees in the area, so everything is either listed or protected.
‘Fortunately, construction companies are now able to overcome the restrictions, whilst also preserving those things that are protected.’
Cllr Edgar, who was mayor of Gosport when initial plans for the site’s closure were announced by the Ministry of Defence, believes that there is major significance to this site making an active return to the town.
He added: ‘Gosport people will be looking to get back to that part of the seawall that has previously been sealed off to them.
‘The site should be a very welcome addition to Gosport.’
In 2001, the provision of healthcare on the site transferred from the Defence Secondary Care Agency to the NHS Trust, with the hospital closing soon afterwards.