A target opening date for the new 68-place care home planned on Leighton Buzzard’s former police station site has been set as March 31, 2020.
Central Beds Council says it is now in the process of selecting a company to run the facility, with the final date for bids to be submitted being April 27.
Outline planning permission was granted in October 2017 for the 1.11-acre Hockliffe Road site after the council completed the purchase of the land in November 2016 for £930,000.
Whichever company successfully takes on the land from the council and develops it for a care home will have to offer CBC up to 30 places at the council’s standard rates.
Those places will enable residents at Westlands in Duncombe Drive to transfer to the new home, should they wish, if the council presses ahead with closing the facility which was built in the 1970s – its favoured option in its recent consultation on its future.
The consultation revealed threw up a number of issues, including:
> The idea of refurbishing or rebuilding Westlands on the same site.
> The suitability of the Hockliffe Road site for a care home.
> The quality of care that would be offered by an independent care provider.
> The cost of care in any replacement home.
> The need to focus on good quality care rather than physical facilities.
> The reason for the long timescale and the belief that a decision had already been made.
> The impact of moving on current residents.
> Providing support for residents and staff at Westlands following a decision about its future.
The council has stated that while price is a significant factor in the evaluation of the bids for the new home, the track record of the provider in providing good quality care for residents and in working with local authorities will also be taken into account.
A report on the consultation states: “There is no evidence to support the view that in general independently-run homes have lower quality of care than council-run ones. The council works with all local providers to monitor and, where necessary, seek improvements in the quality of care. All care homes are subject to the same national inspection regime.”
It expects the outcome of the bids to be reported to a meeting of the council’s Executive in June alongside the outcome of the consultation on the future of Westlands.
The report adds that refurbishing Westlands would result in a home that was small by modern standards and would lack some important facilities. It says: “Rebuilding on site would be feasible but would require the home to close resulting in disruption to residents and we could not guarantee that they could be accommodated at homes nearby or with their friends during the construction period.”
Whereas Westlands overlooks a recreation ground, the new site will have landscaped gardens, but not, the council admits, such pleasant scenery overall.
It states: “The site in Hockliffe Road allows for a similar level of easy access to the town centre of Leighton Buzzard as is achieved at Westlands. On balance it is considered that the benefit of improved facilities on the Hockliffe Road site would significantly outweigh the disbenefit of the less attractive view.”