As a ceremonial spade hacked through some stubborn turf off Leicester Road this week, work began in earnest on a new £7.8 million hospital for Market Harborough.
The spade was wielded by Harborough District council leader Blake Pain, who declared: “This is a big day, and an historic day for Harborough.”
Now up to 120 workers from building firm Morgan Sindall will start work on the site, initially digging the foundations of the new hospital.
The modern and technically advanced “integrated health hub” will be set in a landscaped 4.4 acre site.
The hospital will include a GP practice, outpatient services with an X-ray department, mental health services and physiotherapy and occupational therapy.
Up to 50 staff will be working in the hospital.
Richard Fielding, area director at Morgan Sindall, said: “It is a great privilege to be able to deliver this landmark development.”
Dr Richard Palin, local GP and chair of East Leicestershire and Rutland Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Local people will be able to access a wide range of high quality health services in a safe, fit-for-purpose environment.”
Elliot Howard-Jones, director of commissioning for NHS England (Central Midlands), added: “We all appreciate the long history that lies behind today, and I am delighted to be here to see what is one of our biggest investments in planned care finally become a reality.”
Cllr Phil Knowles, who has been campaigning for the hospital for 28 years, was not invited to the ceremony.
From a vantage point on Leicester Road, he said: “We’ve had false dawns and broken promises but finally good news.
“I will be keeping this campaign high profile until the doors are finally open.”