Financial backers pull out of King Edward VII hospital restoration project

Design and planning director Simon Vernon-Harcount looks out at the demolition works at the Old King Edward V11 ''C121478-1 Mid KEVII  Photo Louise Adams
Design and planning director Simon Vernon-Harcount looks out at the demolition works at the Old King Edward V11 ''C121478-1 Mid KEVII Photo Louise Adams

RESTORATION plans for the historic King Edward VII hospital at Midhurst face an uncertain future after developers City and Country admitted backers have withdrawn funding for the project.

In their latest newsletter, the developers said since plans were approved in 2011 for the conversion of the former hospital to 178 homes and the building of 232 new homes both ‘new build’ developers and banks had become ‘much more risk adverse’.

Financial backers were concerned current legal restrictions could mean they bought parcels of land and built new houses they could not sell because parts of the historic restoration were not completed.

“The delay in securing a new partner has the potential to dramatically slow progress on site,” said the newsletter. “Extending the overall construction programme and the impact on the neighbouring residents.”

Now they are going back to the South Downs National Park Authority (NPA) to negotiate changes to the legal agreement.

Simon Vernon-Harcourt, design and planning director, said: “Funding has been gained to carry out the initial phase of work but further funding is required for the different development stages so the entire project can be delivered.

“Banks and potential new build partners, who would provide some of the monies necessary to complete the extensive restoration scheme on these irreplaceable heritage assets have become much more risk adverse, carrying out far greater scrutiny of the complex legal agreements tied to planning approvals.”

He added: “Another improvement that has been discussed is that proceeds from any early land sales are held in trust by the NPA for expenditure on the historic buildings. This will help provide the funding we require to guarantee the future of these important buildings.”

Mr Vernon-Harcourt said City and Country was confident an acceptable and balanced solution could be found.

The newsletter can be read on the City and Country website.

Developers are holding an open day in March for members of the public to view restoration progress.