WINCHESTER City Council's leader has hit back after fears were raised over the Liberal Democrat election candidate's support for a new hospital at Sir John Moore Barracks.

Last week Winchester MP Steve Brine wrote to civic chiefs to highlight the issue of the 750 - 1,000 homes allocated to the site in the latest draft local plan and asked where these homes would be built.

Winchester Lib Dem election candidate Danny Chambers called for the new hospital to be built at the barracks when it's vacated by the Ministry of Defence in 2026.

Mr Brine asked if the proposal had been discussed with the city council. Cllr Martin Tod said: “The open letter sent by the Liberal Democrats prospective parliamentary candidate for Winchester, Danny Chambers, was sent as his response to the NHS’s Hampshire Together consultation. It wasn’t formally submitted to the city council – nor would I have expected it to be – because the city council is not the authority that decides on NHS service provision and configuration.

READ MORE: MP fears after Lib Dem idea for hospital at Sir John Moore Barracks

“Given the change in plans at Frimley and new information on the availability of sites in Winchester since the previous site assessment was undertaken, I think it was completely appropriate for Danny Chambers to raise these questions and ask the NHS to reconsider sites in Winchester for a potential new hospital – as well as the option to invest in and further modernise the existing Royal Hampshire County Hospital site. I and my colleagues strongly support his having done so.”

The Winchester MP also asked if the proposal could result in a change to the draft local plan, and where the allocated houses would go if a hospital was built there.

Cllr Tod said: “It (the local plan) is not something that the authority can unilaterally change – and so I would not expect the council to do so unless the NHS, after consideration of the feedback they have received from the public and stakeholders via their consultation, including the feedback from Danny Chambers, agrees a new proposal with local landowners. I and my Liberal Democrat colleagues believe that reassessment of sites proposed by Danny Chambers is important and needs to be done.

“In developing our draft Local Plan, the Liberal Democrat administration took a ‘brownfield first’ approach and rejected over 90 per cent of the sites submitted by developers. The various attempts to scaremonger on the issue of development by your Conservative councillor colleagues have been repeatedly proven to have no substance – and this remains the case now. I remain confident in our administration’s ability to deliver a robust Local Plan protecting the countryside and natural environment so loved by local residents while delivering the housing we desperately need.

“Alongside that, I and my Liberal Democrats colleagues are absolutely committed to ensuring the maintenance and modernisation of the health services we need in Winchester and will continue to work as one team alongside our parliamentary candidate to persuade the NHS to make that happen.”