THE opening of an £11.2 million extra-care facility in the heart of a Hampshire town has been delayed by more than a year, after unknown ground condition issues stalled construction.

Previously earmarked to open this summer, the scheme has again been pushed back, with county council leader Roy Perry now anticipating autumn 2020 as the new launch date for the Romsey facility.

Building work will begin after Easter, which this year falls on April 21.

However, documents released have revealed that when demolition of Nightingale Lodge, on Great Well Drive, commenced in May 2018, the developer “frustratingly identified previously unknown ground condition issues”.

“These unforeseen works added additional costs and time,” the documents noted.

The author, who is unnamed, added that the council was able to resolve the issue by securing an unknown amount of extra cash from its own budget, as well as contributions from Test Valley Borough Council and Homes England.

However, this funding proved “complex to secure” and halted progress.

Nevertheless, with that extra money, “detailed designs” were drawn up to fix the issues, and the scheme is now able to enter its “full mobilisation phase”.

Once complete, the facility will provide 54 one- and two-bed rented extra-care assisted flats, communal gardens and courtyard areas, as well as a separate space for a day service.

Cllr Perry said: “We continue to move forward with the development of Nightingale Lodge, and I expect work to begin on site after Easter. Our development partners, a consortium led by Ashley House PLC with Places for People, the housing association, are finalising their plans and are keen to get started.

“Once open, which we expect to be in the autumn of 2020, this brand new development will provide exceptional, purpose built accommodation for the town’s older population.”

However, Romsey county councillor Mark Cooper said: “The delay is unfortunate.

“The currently derelict site is an eyesore for local residents and the extra-care facility planned for the site is much needed.

“It’s also irritating that such an important county land asset has been in unproductive for so long.

“I have been assured that the design and legal difficulties are either resolved or nearing resolution and when the project is completed in 2020 it will be an excellent addition to the town’s housing stock.”

As reported, the home was controversially closed in 2013, after Hampshire County Council members voted to shut it.

This lead to protesters rallying outside the civic offices in Winchester.