PLANS for a new multi-million pound rehab facility on the site of a former private school in Boscombe have been submitted.

Having bought St Thomas Garnet’s School last year, AECC University College has applied for permission to replace its sports hall with the new centre.

Professor Lesley Haig, its vice-chancellor, said the multi-disciplinary facility would be “state-of-the-art” and boost healthcare provision in the county.

The university submitted its planning application to BCP Council at the end of last month, proposing its new “integrated rehabilitation centre” replace the existing sports hall.

It bought St Thomas Garnet’s School in Parkwood Road after the private school closed last year and has since moved some of its teaching and services to the new site.

But the latest plans represent part of the university’s ambition to expand its offering into a wider range of healthcare specialities. It has been supported by Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group.

A statement submitted with its application says the new centre would allow it to increase its services to cater for an extra 14,500 patient visits a year.

It adds that the centre will help fill a “critical need” in the sector.

“Even before we entered this pandemic there were pressures on rehabilitation services,” the university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Lesley Haig, said. “This centre will help that while also increasing the quality of care as we will have these specialities all in one place.”

She said it would be a boost to Dorset as a whole but particularly for Boscombe where, she said, there was a “particularly acute” requirement for these services.

The cost of the project will be partly-covered through more than £3 million in match-funding – £2.7 million of which will come from Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

“This investment aligns to Dorset LEP’s agenda of promoting Dorset as an area with huge opportunities linked to the health agenda and health tech innovation,” its director, Lorna Carver, said. “It is an important part of Dorset’s recovery plan.”

The planning application will be considered by the council over the coming weeks and Prof Haig said the university hoped the new centre would be open in September 2022.