Questions remain over future of Portsmouth site originally set aside for dementia care home

QUESTIONS remain over the future of a patch of land in Portsmouth originally set aside for a new dementia care home.

Wednesday, 9th March 2016, 6:00 am

City Tory planning boss Luke Stubbs has approved plans to put the 1.7-acre East Lodge Park site in Farlington on the market.

It comes despite plans being approved in 2013 for a 72-bed care home to be created to meet demand in the north of the city.

But the cost of the project, first proposed in 2012, has soared to £8m and the council says it can’t afford it, and it’s too risky to borrow the money.

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Developers now have the chance to buy it, meaning homes could go in the place of the original care home.

But the council says it’s open to offers.

Cllr Stubbs said: ‘All options will be explored.

‘The council could keep hold of the land, or it could sell it off for housing or for a care home.’

He added: ‘It’s clearly not an ideal situation.

‘However I think this is the right thing to do.

‘It’s important to get this decision out in the open so everyone knows what options are being looked at.’

But Portsmouth Lib Dem planning spokesman Ben Dowling said it was ‘very worrying’ the council had already spent more than £500,000, taking into account the time of council officers and ‘planning fees’, on the original plans.

Cllr Stubbs argued the bulk of that money was spent prior to the 2014 local elections, when the Lib Dems were in charge of the council.

Yet Cllr Dowling said: ‘It’s been four years, this shows real financial incompetence of the council administration.

‘But we now need to move forward.

‘Clearly we have a need for a dementia care home in the north of the city.

‘This was a suitable site, and clearly the tendering process wasn’t as successful as it could have been.’

Council officers warned the authority had to avoid the prospect of borrowing £8m, and said the situation had to be resolved before the ‘election cycle’ kicks in.

Cllr Stubbs said the adult social care budget would have been loaded with the debt, and would have been incapable of paying it off.