Havant’s £25m Oak Park healthcare plans ‘back to square one’

The land opposite Oak Park Community Clinic in Havant where the healthcare facilities are planned

PLANS for a £25M health and wellbeing campus residents have been waiting years for have stalled once again.

In 2014 Hampshire County Council (HCC) awarded a consortium led by Ashley House PLC a contract to build an 80-bed nursing home and 100 older persons extra-care and sheltered housing flats at the Oak Park site in Havant.

Havant residents including Ann Buckley, front row second from the right, say the town needs the missing beds

But due to one of the partner’s decision to withdraw from the project, which was due to be completed next year, the plans have fallen through.

Last month HCC re-advertised the project online, inviting interested parties to bid to develop and operate Oak Park Health and Wellbeing Campus as just a 60-bed nursing home and 50 older persons extra-care flats.

Ann Buckley, a former county councillor and campaigner for Havant, said: ‘The facilities are urgently needed for elderly residents – they would ease bed-blocking problems at Queen Alexandra Hospital.

‘Residents have waited years for this and we’re back to square one. There’s less nursing home beds and flats on the tender. It’s a disaster for the area. 

‘One of the worst aspects of this failure is the council has left people in the dark and scrutiny there has been inadequate.’

After planning permission was granted in 2015 government proposals on affordable rented housing affected the viability of the scheme.

It meant uncertainty for social housing organisations whose rents would have been reduced or capped. HCC worked with Havant Borough Council and Homes England to secure additional capital grant for the plans.

The government then abandoned proposals to introduce rent reforms.

Mrs Buckley said before the £25m scheme was drawn up, an Oak Park Hospital was supposed to be built on the site, where Oak Park School used to be.

‘That was given planning consent but fell through because of funding problems,’ she said.

‘Many of the clinical services planned there were provided in the Oak Park Community Clinic, but not the beds lost from the Victoria Cottage Hospital in Emsworth and the Havant War Memorial Hospital.’

HCC and the South Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group can purchase up to 30 of the nursing home beds for reablement or rehabilitation – for those ready to be discharged from hospital but not well enough to return home.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, executive member for adult social care and health, said: ‘Due to the decision by one of our partners to withdraw from the project, we are not able to proceed to the next stage of the development.

Regrettably, this will cause a further delay, as for legal reasons we have to repeat some of the steps already taken to secure our project partners.

‘We are seeking to do this as quickly as we can, working with Havant Borough Council - timings and next steps will be confirmed shortly. The development will be a huge asset to Havant.’

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