Council may have to fund construction and operation of new Leighton Buzzard care home after failing to agree a deal with bidders

Proposed care home in Hockliffe Road
Proposed care home in Hockliffe Road

The construction of a new 68-place care home in Leighton Buzzard has hit a snag, but demolition of the former police station is moving ahead shortly on the site.

Central Beds Council is due to report to the Leighton-Linslade Town Council’s partnership committee on Thursday (November 29) that it could not come to an agreement with bidders who were interested in building and operating the facility planned for Hockliffe Road.

Leighton Buzzard Police Station building in Hockliffe Road

Leighton Buzzard Police Station building in Hockliffe Road

It is now considering “other options”, such as the council funding the cost of building and/or operating the home itself.

CBC acquired the 1.11-acre site for £930,000 back in November 2016 with a view to providing a modern care home and day centre space for residents of the outdated Westlands care home and others.

Outline planning permission was granted in October 2017 and earlier this year CBC said the target opening date for the new home would be March 31, 2020.

Operator bids had to be submitted by April 27, with the council expecting the outcome to be reported to a meeting of the council’s Executive in June.

But in a report to be presented to the partnership committee, CBC now states: “Work has been ongoing on the procurement of a care home provider to construct and operate and had expected to seek approval from Central Bedfordshire Council’s Executive to make a decision on the future of Westlands care home and award the contract by now.

“However, whilst there was considerable interest, ultimately the council has not been able reach a satisfactory agreement with a provider. As a consequence the council is now exploring other options for the delivery of a new care home on the site.

“In the meantime progress has been made on the contract of the demolition of the existing building on the site. A contract is currently being awarded and it is expected that work will begin shortly.”

On the future of Westlands care home, it added: “A consultation was held at the end of 2017. Because of the time that has elapsed and the likelihood that there will be different options being considered, it is expected that a further public consultation will be carried out.

“It is planned that the results of the consultation and the preferred route to the delivery of a new care home will be presented to Executive next year, with a view to seeking decisions on both.”

The council says clearing the police station site will take around three months.

Cllr Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Adults, Social Care and Housing Operations told the LBO: ‘We acquired the site with a view to provide a modern care home and day centre space for local customers.

“Whilst we had productive discussions with a number of providers and had a firm offer from one, this did not meet the council’s expectations.

“Although we worked with them to agree an acceptable resolution, this ultimately proved unsuccessful.

“However, the discussions enabled us to explore issues around delivering a project like this in more detail and as a result we remain convinced that the delivery of a care home on the site is a viable option. It is important to us to deliver quality accommodation options for older people in the area.”