Havant health campus site plans deemed ‘broken promise’ as council works towards a new start date
PLANS for the old Oak Park School site in Havant have fallen through for a third time.
The site has long been earmarked to become a health and wellbeing campus for vulnerable older people.
It would bring a 80-bed nursing home to the area, as well as 51 affordable extra care flats and 48 supported living flats.
Construction on the £25m project was expected to begin in the summer of 2020 but did not due to extra market costs and the pandemic.
Ann Buckley, coordinator of the Havant Borough Residents’ Alliance, said the community desperately needs these services for older people in the area.
She says it’s ‘quite shocking’ that Hampshire County Council’s plans have again been delayed, adding that ‘it feels like a broken promise that’s fallen through too many times.’
Ann added: ‘It’s extremely bad news. What concerns me is that Hampshire County Council hasn’t bothered to keep residents informed.’
After Emsworth’s Victoria Cottage Hospital and Havant War Memorial hospital closed a decade ago, plans were made for a new hospital to be built on the old Oak Park School site in Crosslands Road.
Planning consent was given in 2010 but the NHS did not proceed with the new site.
Ann said: ‘Havant was going to be having a community hospital to be built on this Oak Park site between Havant and Leigh Park, with various services for the community.
‘At the very last moment, it had all been agreed and everyone was behind it, the financial downturn came in 2008 and the NHS decided it couldn’t push ahead with it. It was a real tragedy at the time.’
To replace the lost hospital beds, a nursing home with 80 beds for older people was planned.
In addition to this, plans for extra care housing scheme with almost 100 flats for older people on the site were put forward.
Ann said: ‘These would be two fantastic schemes for older people.’
Plans were approved in 2014, and a succession of partnerships were formed to try and make the project a reality.
The third and most recent partnership formed with Hampshire County Council, the NHS and the provider intended to begin work on the Oak Park Health and Wellbeing Campus last year – but construction has not started.
A spokesperson for Hampshire County Council said: ‘The development of the Oak Park site in Havant is an important development priority for the county council to help meet the needs of vulnerable adults within the local community.
‘While we had fully anticipated the project being underway by now, a number of additional challenges over the past year have delayed the start.
‘These include changing market conditions which have added extra cost, along with the additional challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘We understand local residents’ disappointment that the development is not further forward, but we would like to assure everyone that we are working as quickly as possible towards a new start date.
‘We hope to be in a position to share our updated plans, including timings, later this year.’