A new vision for the old Wareham Middle School site is being proposed after NHS Dorset Healthcare decided not to build new hospital facilities on the site.
Dorset Council is still proposing to go ahead with its housing plans to build much needed homes for people with care and support needs, despite NHS Dorset Healthcare’s decision to pull out of the scheme.
The site of the old Wareham Middle School off Worgret Road in Wareham
Provide around 90 homes
The housing scheme, Purbeck Gateway will provide around 90 homes and is similar to the Bridport Gateway project, which also aims to encourage adults with additional needs to live as independently as possible.
The proposal will go to the Dorset Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday 1st March 2022 for consideration by councillors.
The recommended development for the old middle school site now includes:
- An extra care housing scheme – providing housing with onsite care and support for adults aged 18 and upwards
- Affordable housing – including supported living accommodation for residents of neighbouring Red Oak Court
- Space for a GP surgery and community pharmacy
- Space for early years provision, incorporated in the extra care accommodation
‘One-stop’ community health and care hub
The original plans included creating a new health hub which would have provided all the services currently available at Wareham Hospital, which is run by NHS Dorset healthcare, as well as a GP practice.
The vision, which was set out in Dorset’s Clinical Services Review in 2017, was to create a ‘one-stop’ community health and care hub in Wareham that would serve patients across Purbeck in conjunction with Swanage Hospital.
The services at Wareham Hospital were to be part of a new Purbeck Health Hub
“Dorset Healthcare have confirmed that they will not take forward development of a new health hub”
In the Dorset Council report it reveals:
“Our project partners at Dorset Healthcare have concluded their work exploring potential development options for an integrated health hub.
“Dorset Healthcare have confirmed that they will not take forward development of a new health hub development on the middle school site as they are now working in a different way post-pandemic and integration can be achieved through digital means.”
As a result, it appears that Wareham GP Surgery hasn’t confirmed its move to the new premises but land will be allocated in the hope that it will go ahead.
It’s unclear what this means for the future of the services that are currently provided at Wareham Hospital. Under the original plan, once the hospital services had been moved to the Purbeck Health Hub, the Wareham Hospital site was to be demolished to make way for new housing.
The plan to build a nursing home on the site has also been dropped in favour of focussing on the provision of extra care housing.
The temporary units on the old middle school site will be replaced with permanent housing
Red Oak Court temporary housing
Dorset Council has already started to use the land at the old middle school off Worgret Road, by installing temporary housing units onto the site in spring 2020.
The housing, called Red Oak Court, now has 17 modular, self-contained apartments and bungalows providing supported living for adults with learning disabilities, mental health issues or physical impairments.
This accommodation will be replaced with permanent housing under the Purbeck Gateway scheme and the modular units relocated and repurposed.
“Providing much needed accommodation”
Councillor Graham Carr-Jones, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for housing and community safety said:
“Dorset Council is excited to be taking forward the Purbeck Gateway scheme – providing much needed accommodation for people with care and support needs as well as local people who want to stay in their hometown but have been priced out of the market.
“Creating these services will have huge positive impacts for people living in Purbeck, enabling people who need support to live independent lives in modern, purpose-built homes of their own, but with the benefit of on-site care and support when they need it.
“We will be able to use the latest technology and building design to create environments which help people stay independent for as long as possible.”
Residents and staff at Red Oak Court
If the recommendations are approved, Dorset Council will start looking in April 2022 for a developer to build the extra care accommodation and other housing, with the aim of awarding a contract in July 2022.
A planning application will be submitted in March 2023, and if granted, building work should start on site in summer 2023. If everything goes to plan the scheme should be completed by March 2025.
The Dorset Council report on the Purbeck Gateway housing scheme is on its website
The Dorset Council cabinet meeting, considering the issue, is at 10 am on Tuesday 1st March 2022 and can be watched online