Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Hospital builder in homes dispute

THE company responsible for redeveloping Townlands Hospital in Henley could face legal action for an alleged breach of contract.

THE company responsible for redeveloping Townlands Hospital in Henley could face legal action for an alleged breach of contract.

The threat to Amber Infrastructure comes from a developer which was chosen to create 44 homes at the site but was then told it was no longer wanted.

It was thought that Beechcroft Developments had pulled out of the scheme but the Henley Standard can reveal that in fact the Wallingford firm is considering legal action if it can’t reach a settlement with Amber.

When the hospital redevelopment plans were unveiled in 2012, Beechcroft was chosen to create 32 assisted-living properties for the elderly and another 12 homes for key workers.

The plan was to convert the three existing buildings, including the Grade II-listed workhouse and the Range, into cottages and apartments and to have 49 designated parking spaces as well as courtyards and green seating areas.

Then Amber pulled the plug on the scheme and now could carry out that part of the redevelopment itself. Beechcroft managing director Chris Thompson said: “We had a contract with Amber Infrastructure. For some reason â?? and it’s not absolutely clear to us whyâ?? they don’t want to involve us in the redevelopment.

“We’re in discussions with Amber at the moment to try to avoid proceeding with litigation against them for breaching their contract with us. We had what we believe was an agreement to undertake the work.

“I don’t think there’s any chance we’re going to be involved in the development. We understand that Amber want to do the development themselves.”

He said Beechcroft had spent a “very considerable” sum on the project.

“We’re very disappointed as we put a lot into the promotion of the scheme,” said Mr Thompson.

“It’s quite a complex development which not only includes assisted-living housing but also the conversion of listed buildings for which we’re quite well known.”

He added that the two firms had been in negotiations and he was “hopeful” that legal action could be avoided.

Beechcroft Developments has been building homes for the elderly for about 30 years and has completed schemes in Remenham, Goring and Emmer Green.

The news is the latest twist in the £16million redevelopment of Townlands into a “health campus.”

Before Christmas Sue Ryder announced it would not be moving from its hospice Nettlebed to the top floor of the new hospital currently being built.

This was followed in the New Year by the Henley Standard revealing that doctors from the Bell and Hart surgeries had lost the contract to care for patients at Townlands.

Since then talks have been taking place which could mean the GPs would still be involved.

The Henley Standard understands that the surgeries have been approached to see how they could work together with the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust in running GP services and visits to the Peppard Ward.

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group will provide details of the services to be provided at the new hospital at a meeting of the Townlands Steering Group next week.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will be held in the main chamber at the town hall on Thursday, starting at 7.30pm.

Amber did not respond to requests for comment.

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