The borough council made the scheme, located on the site of St Andrew’s Methodist Church in the South Ham area of Basingstoke, possible by buying the existing church building and associated land.
That sale was made on the understanding that the borough council would build a new medical centre and would replace St Andrew’s church and provide a hall for use by both parishioners and the wider community. Once planning permission was approved in March 2011, funds were released to allow the start of the project. The borough will retain ownership of the medical centre, which will be leased to both medical and dental practices, along with a Boots pharmacy.
David Cook, Regional Director of Leadbitter’s Southern Construction and Housing division, said: “Leadbitter is delighted to be working in partnership with BDBC on the new build medical centre, pharmacy and church on the former St Andrews Church site. Works have now commenced in earnest, and we look forward to playing a valuable role within the local community.”
As part of the demolition of the original St Andrew’s Hall, Leadbitter has removed the original foundation stones, which were laid on 29 June 1955, for safe keeping. The stones will be cleaned and renewed before being relayed as part of the new two storey facility, which is being constructed using traditional methods, such as load bearing masonry and trussed and tiled roof.
Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Finance and Property Cllr Ranil Jayawardena said: “It seems fitting that we are marking the history of this site as work starts to create 21st century facilities for local people. This project will make a real difference and demonstrates our continued commitment to communities across the borough. By investing this money we will also make a good return to help keep council tax low for all our residents.”
The centre will include a doctors’ surgery with seven consulting rooms and pharmacy for use by the local community and has been pre-let to an existing practice, which will relocate its South Ham and Hatch Warren surgeries to the new site when the construction is completed in spring 2012. The project also includes the creation of a new vehicular access and 16 additional car parking spaces.
Site preparation has not been without its challenges, including demolition having to adhere to a strict timescale to ensure its completion before the return of a species of bat, which has previously used the building as its nesting site.