Campaigners raise concerns over sale of St James’ Hospital in Portsmouth

St James' Hospital site. Picture: Paul Jacobs
St James' Hospital site. Picture: Paul Jacobs
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CONCERNS have been raised about the number of homes proposed at a former hospital site as it was put up for sale.

NHS Property Services announced it was accepting closed bids for the St James’ Hospital site in Milton after it was declared surplus to requirement.

Portsmouth City Council leader Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson said he wants the authority to purchase the freehold in a bid to ‘protect’ it from developers.

But campaigners say they are surprised that marketers Montagu Evans said listed buildings could be converted to create 159 houses and apartments, and 140 homes in new build houses and apartments. Forest Lodge could also be used as a care home.

Kimberly Barrett, founder of Keep Milton Green, said: ‘The housing numbers mentioned in this brochure are much higher than we expected. The fact that the numbers are much higher is disappointing to use as Keep Milton Green.

‘Their priority is money which is very different to what the council’s is. The more the can cram in the better for them.

‘I don’t understand how that’s going to happen - they’re going to struggle.’

Kimberly said any developer would struggle to cram in the homes as existing documents had been drawn up on the basis of fewer homes being on the site.

The Homes Agency has already bid for 107 homes on the site in an earlier phase.

Marketing material published described the sale as a ‘landmark development opportunity’ at the hospital.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson confirmed if the council was successful, the authority would still build homes – but also look at a convalescence home or dementia care to ‘take significant pressure off’ Queen Alexandra Hospital.

He said: ‘We don’t know how many other people are going to bid for it. What I would hope if the council would buy it, we would be able to work with the local community in a way that a private developer just wouldn’t.’

A spokesman for NHS Property Services said it was working to secure ‘maximum value’ for the sale. The site is mostly empty and ‘costly’ to maintain, he said.

He said they would be willing to continue to engage with the community.

Solent NHS Trust will keep a small area of the St James’ Hospital land for its mental health services.