April date set for health unit start

Latest artist impression of The Harbour, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust's planned new inpatient unit at Whyndyke Farm

Latest artist impression of The Harbour, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust's planned new inpatient unit at Whyndyke Farm

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WORK on a £40m new mental health unit on the Fylde coast will finally begin in April.

Lancashire Care NHS Trust has announced it hopes to have the Harbour up and running by Spring 2015.

There have been numerous delays to the scheme on land at Whyndyke Farm, Preston New Road, Marton, which was first mooted more than five years ago.

Developers have had to secure planning permission from both Blackpool and Fylde Councils because the project straddles both authorities. Revised plans have now been approved.

Alistair Rose, project director for Lancashire Care NHS, told Blackpool Council’s health committee the project was now ready to progress.

He said; “We will be exchanging all the contracts for land and buildings and for the road alterations within the next month.

“We will then start on site at the beginning of April, with the building work to finish before Christmas 2014 and the service to be fully operational by spring 2015.”

The new facility will replace the existing Parkwood unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, which will remain open until the Harbour opens.

Councillors have criticised the delays to the project.

But Mr Rose said: “One reason everything has taken longer is we have had to get agreement from both planning authorities and we have done that.

“The Harbour will be a fantastic new facility for Lancashire, of the very latest design and a really good thing for the area to have.”

Coun John Jones, (right), vice-chairman of the health committee, said he was glad work was now set to begin.

He said: “I am really pleased there seems to be progress and this is welcome news as long as work really does start.

“We have had promises before, so I hope they do stick to the timetable and hopefully work will start in April as we really need these new facilities.

“I will definitely be monitoring progress.”

The revised scheme is a smaller building and the building footprint has been moved closer to the main approach road.

Changes also include a smaller sized courtyard, and smaller bedrooms although the planning report states they are “all within current best practice guidelines”.

However the number of bedrooms remains the same at 154.

Nearby residents have been consulted on the proposals throughout the application process.

The development will also see a traffic light controlled junction installed on Preston New Road opposite the Little Marton Windmill, a signalled crossing and a new bus lay-by.

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