THE opening of a new care centre in Eastleigh is to be delayed.

The former John Darling Mall respite centre in Selborne Drive is being turned into 18 one-bedroom flats for young people with learning disabilities, as part of a scheme led by Hampshire County Council (HCC).

The new facility, which will provide accommodation for Hampshire residents who require up to 24-hour care, was expected to open in spring this year.

But when asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the county council said it is now expected to open in the autumn.

The authority had previously said that the plans form part of an investment by the county council of up to £35 million to build fit–for–purpose accommodation for people with disabilities across the county.

Now a spokesperson for HCC added: “Good progress is being made in developing the John Darling Mall site, with the accommodation expected to open in the autumn. The project has taken a little longer than originally anticipated due to the number of projects in this programme evolving across the county.”

Each of the one-bedroom flats will provide accommodation for an adult aged between 19 and 65 with various learning disabilities and care and support will be available on site 24/7.

Each flat will have a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room.

There will be communal spaces on the ground and first floor to give residents the opportunity to socialise and attend organised activities.

In both communal spaces, a fully fitted kitchen will also be provided for catering.

The scheme came after the former respite centre was shut in 2016, when HCC said it needed major improvements costing about £5 million.

It included six warden-controlled flats and a hostel where users could stay if their carers were away or simply needed a break from looking after them.

The authority said that a refurbishment option was identified, but it came at an uneconomic cost.

The project is now part of the county council’s Supported Living development programme which includes seven new schemes across the county – within the Basingstoke, New Milton, Winchester, Rushmoor, Fareham and Eastleigh areas.