A HEALTH minister has revealed the site for the new Basingstoke hospital in Dummer will be bought this year if the public consultation results show that M3 Junction 7 is the preferred option.

Lord Nick Markham, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, said the Government is in “serious negotiations” with the land owner and an initial fund of £10m has been allocated to develop plans for the new hospital.

He was speaking at a community chat organised by Maria Miller MP at the Carnival Hall in Basingstoke to discuss the New Hospitals Programme (NHP).

Natalie Forrest, who was in charge of the NHP, also spoke to members of the public who attended the chat.

READ MORE: Petition to build hospital in Winchester not Basingstoke

To questions on whether there really is money allocated for the Basingstoke hospital plans, Lord Markham said the Government “would not be spending tens of millions of pounds” on developing plans and acquiring sites if the money was not allocated.

“[The probability of materialising Basingstoke hospital plan is] very high – without jumping before the conversation has finished,” he said.

“If the consultation shows that Junction 7 is the preferred option, we are hoping to secure the land by this summer.”

NHS Hampshire Together has been conducting consultations on plans for the new hospital. The options include building a new hospital at Junction 7 or at the current Basingstoke hospital site. Junction 7 is the preferred option of Hampshire Together.

To questions on why the Government has not put the money in an annual budget yet, Lord Markham said it’s because it is a multi-year programme.

“We are not stupid,” he said. “We don’t spend tens of millions of pounds on plots of lands if we don’t know that the money is there.

SEE ALSO: The 14 sites in Basingstoke, Andover and Winchester considered for new hospital 

“I can assure you that for any big project that’s not the way the Government finances works. I have got mortgage for my house, but I don’t have money in my bank account for the next 20 years. Governments make commitments over multiple years and you only set your budget on an annual basis.

“We have an allocation to buy the land this year and that money is in the bank account. The treasury would not be signing of fund to buy this land if they didn’t have money for the project.”

The minister added that the programme will need cross-party support to materialise it.

“Whatever happens with the next elections over the next 10-15 years, what’s vital is it is absolutely cross-party basis. We are in this together.”