THE county council is in the process of ‘securing’ a new development partner to help build a £25m health centre by ‘early 2021’.
The announcement comes after years-old plans for an 80-bed nursing home opposite the Oak Park Community Clinic, in Havant, were put on hold when a previous partner pulled out.
The stall frustrated campaigners and longtime backers of the scheme last month – but they have dubbed Hampshire County Council’s (HCC) latest timeline a ‘glimmer of hope’.
Oak Park Health and Wellbeing Centre, as it will be called if building begins next autumn as HCC estimates, will also comprise 99 older-persons extra-care and sheltered housing flats.
Havant community activist Ann Buckley is a former county councillor and has followed the ‘vital’ plans since their inception.
‘Residents have been waiting years for these really important facilities but at least now this is a step in the right direction,' she said.
‘These nursing home beds and homes are essential to stop people bed-blocking at Queen Alexandra Hospital.’
She added: ‘Oak Park should’ve been built this year, but we are still a long way off – years off.
‘But I would say this is a glimmer of hope.’
Residents feared ‘about 10 years’ of planning for Oak Park was under threat during the summer when HCC re-advertised the site as a lesser 60-bed nursing home and 50 flats.
But HCC’s executive member for adult social care and health, councillor Liz Fairhurst, confirmed the bigger plan yesterday.
‘I am very pleased that we are now in a position to secure the services of a new development partner,’ she said.
‘After some frustration for all concerned, I am confident that we can now move forward positively, working closely with our partners on Havant Borough Council.
‘Once completed in early 2021, this development will be a huge asset to the Havant community – we will all be delighted to see the construction of this valuable amenity begin.’
As previously reported, the consortium which pulled out of the Oak Park scheme had been awarded the HCC and Ashley James PLC contract in 2014.
HCC will provide the site along with capital grants to help with the development.