Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Council to find £1.1m for new hospital

A NEW agreement is to be considered next week which could be an important milestone in the ill-fated New Horizons project aiming to deliver a new £36 million community hospital for West Somerset.
The cash-strapped district council will be recommended on Wednesday to find up to £1.1 million to pay for capital works to enable the scheme to go ahead.
The council previously pulled the financial plug on New Horizons when its share of the costs rose to £11 million – but there was said to be nothing in the coffers to fund it.
Despite The Post being told the council was bound by an undertaking to provide infrastructure for the hospital to be built anyway, the authority’s media and PR officer, Stacey Beaumont denied this.
Now, the ‘riot act’ has been read to district councillors by their Somerset Primary Care Trust partners and a new agreement has been drawn up, which also involves Somerset County Council and the West Somerset Community College.
New Horizons also aims to deliver a 14 to19 years vocational training centre, adult learning facilities, sports opportunities, and affordable housing.
If the agreement is approved by councillors on Wednesday, the proposed new Minehead Community Hospital will be then the subject of a detailed planning application which will be submitted by the PCT in the summer.
The agreement also maps out how the partners intend to take forward land deals so that work can also start on marketing the housing aspect of the project, 30 per cent of which will be affordable housing.
The county council has already approved the agreement, in which it commits to contributing up to £1.2 million as well as transferring significant amounts of land to partners to make the scheme work.
The report going to district councillors recommends:
  • A capital contribution equal to approximately a 25 per cent share of certain infrastructure costs of the project. This sum is to be capped at £1.1m and would support all elements of the community facilities, the Community Hospital, Skills and Enterprise Centre, new playing field provision and residential housing.

  • The transfer to Somerset County Council of an area of land adjacent to Seaward Way equal to approximately 4.4 acres. In exchange, Somerset County Council will transfer an area of land adjacent to Seaward Way equal to 0.42 acres to West Somerset Council. This will enable the creation of an access road from Seaward Way and the replacement of sports pitches within The West Somerset College.

  • The transfer to Somerset Primary Care Trust of an area of land adjacent to Seaward Way equal to approximately 0.42 acres to enable the completion of the access road to the new hospital site.

West Somerset Council has already invested £2.7m in purchasing land to help facilitate the project and has also contributed a significant amount of staff resource and time in working with the partner organisations.

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