AROUND £500,000 has been spent on a plan to build a dementia care home – but now the scheme has been axed.
The 1.7-acre East Lodge Park site in Farlington was destined to become a home run by Portsmouth City Council.
It’s a bombshell to me – I never realised there was this problem not to be able to build East LodgeCampaigner Jim Patey
But Luke Stubbs, Tory deputy leader, has announced construction costs have ballooned from £5m to £8m, making the entire scheme too costly.
Now he is proposing to sell off the land to fund investment in schools, roads and income-generating schemes.
The News understands the land is worth about £1.5m on the open market.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Liberal Democrat opposition leader, criticised the proposed sell-off for wasting cash.
He said: ‘The current administration has been in for two years and not built it.
‘Planning it and not doing it seems to me a real waste of public money.’
Planning permission was granted back in December 2013 when Cllr Vernon-Jackson ran the council.
Asked why he did not get the facility built then, he said: ‘It was on a list of things to do, we do things one thing at a time.’
Cabinet members are to consider the plan to sell off the land on March 3.
Cllr Stubbs, deputy leader of the council, said the original estimate for building costs was affected by the recession but had since increased.
He said: ‘In today’s climate, with government grants to councils decreasing every year, it is important that we raise funds wherever we can.
‘If we can no longer build a care home on the site, then I feel we should get a good price for it.’
Developers could buy the land for housing or a private care firm could buy it to run its own facility, Cllr Stubbs said.
Two council-run homes – Edinburgh House and Hilsea Lodge – were previously earmarked for closure when East Lodge Park opened. They will now remain open and a review of residential care is being carried out.
Jim Patey, who established the Patey Day Centre in Cosham, said the decision not to build was a loss to the city.
He said: ‘It’s a bombshell to me – I never realised there was this problem not to be able to build East Lodge.’
He said he had concerns about the future of Edinburgh House as it was an old facility built in the 1950s and could need refurbishment.