A ground-breaking event took place on Monday 23 August, to celebrate a £43 million development, funded by the council with a contribution from the £6.2m Housing Infrastructure Fund for Dunstable, that will see an integrated health and care hub and, 98 apartments for the over 55s built right in the heart of the town. Planning was approved in 2020 and work on site commenced three months ago, but due to the pandemic the ceremony had been delayed.
The Dunstable integrated health and care hub is the first of its kind to be built across Central Bedfordshire and a realisation of an ambitious vision created ten years ago between the council and its NHS partners. When complete the hub will transform the way health and care services are provided so local people can be better supported in the community, with access to more joined up working between hospitals and community-based services. It is being built on the site behind GO Bowling, off Court Drive.
After three months of earthworks and ground preparation, phase one of the new integrated health and care hub commenced today with the installation of the steel framework.
Cllr. Brian Saunders, Central Bedfordshire Council’s Chairman led the way in signing a beam alongside the main contractor Richard Davidson, Regional Director at Willmott Dixon and Gloria Martin, Mayor, Dunstable Town Council. They were then followed by invited dignitaries which included David Carter, Chief Executive Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cllr. Eugene Ghent, Executive Member Housing & Assets, Felicity Cox, BLMK Integrated Care Services Executive Lead and BLMK CCG Accountable Officer, Steven Course, Deputy Chief Executive, East London Foundation Trust, Dr Mohit Venkataram, Executive Commercial Director, ELFT, Cllr. Carole Hegley, Executive Member Adult Social Care, Julie Ogley, Director of Social Care, Health and Housing, Matthew Winn, Chief Executive Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust and NHS England and Improvement Director of Community Health and Nadeem Hussain, Clinical Director Primary Care Network, Dunstable. Following which all invited guests had an opportunity to sign the beam with a special message. The signed beam was then raised into place on site as the first of the steel framework for the structure and will act as a living time capsule and as a reminder of this moment in time.
Cllr. Saunders and Cllr. Martin did the honours to tighten the first bolts securing the beam in place.
Cllr Ghent said: “The steel beam signing ceremony marks an important stage in the construction of this transformational project for the people of Dunstable and the surrounding villages. Together with our NHS partners this innovative development will not only transform how we provide better care locally but will also provide 98 new homes for older people and is part of a wider regeneration of the area.”
“It was excellent to see the people involved being able to ‘leave their mark’ on the frame which will stay forever as a captured moment in time and lasting legacy.”
Cllr. Carole Hegley, Executive Member for Adults Social Care said: “The facilities will improve the way residents receive care for many years to come – something we know will be very much welcomed by all.”
“It was a pleasure and privilege to sign my name.”
David Carter said: “This hub represents a major step forward in providing the infrastructure to allow us to change the way in which we care for people’s health and wellbeing. Working together in one building will allow us to be proactive in supporting our population’s heath, more resilient and more accessible. It is incredibly exciting for us to play a part in developing a hub which will be a model for how we provide integrated primary and community services.”
Felicity Cox said: “We are incredibly excited for the start of construction on this project. This is a great opportunity to provide the people of Dunstable and the surrounding areas with lots of health and care services working together in one place.
“Integration of services is so important to the health and care of people across the area and so it is great to be able to give our local population access to a number of different services together under one roof.”
Richard Davidson said: “We’re delighted to be utilising our expertise in community and health to deliver this first of a kind facility for Central Bedfordshire. Throughout this project we will be working within the community to deliver apprenticeships and local jobs, support for the local supply chain and ensuring all our activities leave a lasting positive legacy.”
Julie Ogley, Director of Social Care, Health and Housing said: “By concentrating a number of health and care services for children, adults and older people into a single town centre hub we are making it more accessible and easier for our residents to use.”
The development is scheduled for completion in Spring 2023.
To get a feel for how the integrated health and care hub and apartments will look when complete, take a look at these CGI fly-through videos, a vision of inside the integrated health and care hub https://youtu.be/QeRvM02vz8E and what the building and homes will look like https://youtu.be/THJZeM1Jq8Y.