RESIDENTS of Christchurch have had their first look at the proposed plans for a £12 million project to develop Christchurch Hospital.

The project is a joint enterprise from three local organisations – Macmillan Caring Locally, The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and the Affordable Housing and Healthcare Group.

After two and a half years of planning and designs, the group hosted its first public consultation yesterday, after welcoming more than 160 hospital staff to a private consultation.

Richard Renaut, chief operating officer at the hospital trust, said: “The plans are a result of many months of working closely together with Macmillan Caring Locally and AHH and their respective architectural teams.

“We’ve already upgraded Christchurch hospital, secured the services on site and started to create a senior living community. This next stage creates a real community hub, much needed afforded senior living, as well as the new MacMillan unit.

“For the NHS, we’d have even better physiotherapy services, and subject to funding would see the Dorset Prosthetic Centre move on site. This is an exciting package designed to meet local needs.”

The proposed plans for the 148-hectare site include a new MacMillan Caring Locally hospice, additional NHS services and a set of affordable homes for over-55s.

Having been constructed in 1974, the existing MacMillan Unit is set to be demolished to make way for the new 'state-of-the-art' building, which would include 20 beds, including 12 single beds with en-suites, a multi-faith room and day facilities.

Having already set aside £5 million for the project, if the plans are approved, the hospice will look to raise the remaining cash through fundraising activities, trust funds and its capital appeal Brick by Brick.

If planning for the MacMillan Hospice is approved, work is expected to begin by June or July this year with a target date for completion set for Christmas 2021.

Neal Williams, Trust Secretary for Macmillan Caring Locally said: “The current Macmillan Unit is a centre of excellence and has been providing exceptional care for 45 years.

“As demand for the service has grown exponentially, we are in need of a new building that will serve the wider and changing needs of our community. Whilst our charity has been setting aside funds to build a new hospice for many years, the need has now accelerated in response to the threefold increase in patient referrals.”

Included in the extended application are 125 apartments for independent living, 35 lodges and health hub and communal spaces which will be located around the perimeter of the site.

David Hines, chief operating officer at AHH said: “Creating affordable homes for older people, accommodation for key workers and care led communities is at the forefront of everything we do.

“Through our established partnerships with NHS Trusts, we add value to local hospitals which in turn gives the best possible public benefit for health, community and local housing."

A joint planning application will be submitted to BCP Council at the end of January. Subject to consent being obtained, there will be a phased approach to the construction and demolition of the existing Macmillan Unit.

The reaction

THE majority of residents that attended the first consultation told the Echo they were impressed with the designs, however staff from the School Nursing site in Fairmile Road – within the construction area – said it was the first time they had heard of the plans.

Angela Mann, a member of the admin team for School Nursing, said: “We were sent a brief email at the beginning of the week telling us about this project. We only moved in their in August so the thought of moving again is a little disheartening."

Another member of the admin team, Claire Carnall, added: “I think it is a great idea, it is well-needed in the area and a really positive move.”

Local resident Keith Harrison said: “I think it is a brilliant idea, a resource that will be very popular in the area.

“What is very impressive is the sympathetic development that they plan for the construction of the project, that they are planning on doing it in phases to relieve congestion for locals.

“There is a lot of ground to be covered but I believe it will be something that Christchurch will welcome and support.”

Mair Bridger, who lives in River Way, Christchurch, said: “I think that it seems very good.

"I was very happy to see that they plan on keeping most of the existing trees and adding so much garden space and green areas for patients and visitors to walk around.

“It is going to be quite a big project and will take some time to be built but, when it is complete, I think it will be very impressive.”