BOLD plans to build a ‘long-overdue’ £12.6m care home for Royal Navy veterans in the heart of Portsmouth have been officially unveiled.
The Royal Navy Benevolent Trust announced its proposal to build the 66-bed facility at the former Forest Lodge care home in Locksway Road, Milton, yesterday.
It came after The News reported about a plan for a new city care home at the site were afoot last week.
Officially announcing RNBT’s involvement in the project, Captain Nick Fletcher, the charity’s trustee chairman, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to increase our support to naval veterans by planning to build a new naval care home in Portsmouth – the home of the Royal Navy.’
Known as Centenary Care Home Project, the new facility is being funded by the RNBT and built by LNT Care Developments Ltd.
Bosses behind the vision hope to have the centre up and running by early 2021, with work earmarked to begin as soon as December this year – if city planners approve the bid.
The revelation has delighted the city's military community, who said the new home was desperately needed.
Portsmouth-based military campaigner Bob Beech, who founded the Pompey Pals Charity, said: ‘This is massively overdue. We have needed this for a very long time.
‘Thank goodness somebody, somewhere has pulled their fingers out and got this sorted.’
Rod Edwards, chairman of the Agamemnon Housing Association, runs six sheltered housing sites across the area for naval veterans still able to live independently.
However, he said: ‘There’s definitely a real requirement for care home for Royal Navy veterans. There simply aren’t enough veteran care homes for people to go to when they leave us at Agamemnon. So I fully support this.’
Ian Millen, a retired Royal Navy Commander and chief executive of military group Veterans Outreach support, also backed the plan and said the site would be a valuable addition for Portsmouth.
‘The establishment of a care home for naval service veterans in Portsmouth – the home of the Royal Navy – is a very welcome development,’ he said.
‘With an already impressive track record for residential care in Pembroke House, Kent, RNBT should be applauded for bringing high quality provision to a city that is increasingly demonstrating just how service veterans should be looked after.’
The decision to build the site came after a major strategic review undertaken by the RNBT last year, in which the trust noted it should do more to expand residential care places, particularly those with dementia.
The proposal could bring between 50 and 60 jobs to the city.
However, leaders have warned they still face an uphill struggle to raise the last £5m of the £12.6m total needed to build the home and have launched a fundraising appeal.
Rob Bosshardt, chief executive of the charity, said he had about three years to raise the cash.
He added: ‘We would be absolutely delighted if people could support us with our fundraising.’
To support the fundraiser, see rnbt.org.uk