A NEW private hospital could be built as a "key anchor occupier" in contentious plans to transform farmland in Poole.

Nuffield Health has confirmed to the Daily Echo that it is close to exchange contracts with Talbot Village Trust for part of the site near Bournemouth University.

As reported, Talbot Village Trust has plans for an "innovation quarter" – a development dedicated to the creative and digital industries – on the land at Highmoor Farm.

Nuffield Health's plans for a new hospital have gone on display at the organisation's existing site in Lansdowne Road, Bournemouth.

A Nuffield Health spokesperson said: “We have been looking at potential sites for a new hospital in the area for many years, due to the increasing need for more facilities in the area.

"However, is it only recently that this particular site has become a realistic option and discussions commenced as a result.”

The registered health charity opened its first hospital in the country in Bournemouth 64 years ago.

“The local community’s healthcare needs are changing so we want to evolve our hospital services, which is why we believe a potential new hospital to replace our existing hospital will better serve the community," the Nuffield Health spokesperson said.

"Our hospital currently provides cutting-edge areas of speciality including cardiac services, endoscopy, robot arm assisted surgery, a private GP service, fertility treatment, orthopaedic surgery, and more. These will all transfer over with more opportunities for clinical innovation will be available to us with a potential new hospital.

“The potential new hospital facilities will serve the evolving needs of the local community but we understand we need to go through a formal planning process first, working with Talbot Village Trust. We are therefore some way off being able to give details on the features we would like to be included at this stage.”

Nuffield Health will undertake a full consultation process with all relevant stakeholders including residents once we are in the position to pursue a planning application, the the spokesperson said.

They added: "Nuffield Health has been in positive dialogue with the Talbot Village Trust about the potential of a new hospital; both parties are hopeful that we are now close to exchanging contracts soon.

“We are at an advanced stage of negotiations with the Talbot Village Trust and when these are concluded, we will be keen to move forward on a planning application. This could be as early as spring this year, depending on progress of the next steps of finalising the plans.”

Talbot Village Trust confirmed it was in an advanced stage of negotiations with Nuffield Health to bring forward the new hospital as part of its innovation quarter proposals.

The trust described the facility as a "key anchor occupier" to begin delivery of the "wider vision". They said it would create many local jobs and improve healthcare provision.

A spokesperson for Talbot Village Trust said: "The trust is committed to ensuring that the local community in Wallisdown and Talbot Village and the wider area are involved at the heart of discussions to bring forward plans for an exciting new Innovation Quarter.

"In the near future the trust will confirm arrangements for a comprehensive and collaborative public consultation involving all members of the community."

The trust said the site has been identified as a key in the emerging BCP Local Plan but the proposals are at a "very early stage", with a consultation and planning process to come.

"Talbot Village Trust is excited by the unique opportunity to provide an inspiring environment for entrepreneurial businesses in the digital industries to grow," added the trust spokesperson.

"The Innovation Quarter could be home to some of the UK’s most exciting and progressive industries including much needed healthcare provision and in turn would enable the retention of highly skilled graduates from Bournemouth universities in the local area."

Talbot Village Trust is still awaiting a decision on its planning application to create a "heathland support area”, to take pressure off the ecologically sensitive Talbot Heath, have run into controversy.

A large number of residents are concerned by the proposal to convert 30 acres of farmland into the publicly-accessible park.

Members of the Preserve Talbot Heath Facebook group say the the primary aim of the application is to facilitate the innovation quarter and will be "the beginning of the end" for Highmoor Farm.

The application is still being considered by BCP Council's planning department.