Contractors have started to strip out the empty buildings in preparation for work to start in October on a 100-room care home which is to be built on the 2.5-acre site in Wood Street.
Signature Senior Lifestyle, which purchased the site from NHS Property Services, obtained planning approval for the construction of the £22 million care home in mid-February, and say the design of the new building will be compatible with the Wood Street conservation area.
It will be of two to three storeys in height and will offer studio flats and one-bedroom flats suitable for couples, together with a secure dementia wing.
Facilities will include a ground floor café and restaurant, a second-floor bistro, community area suitable for events, and a small cinema.
Security fences have now been erected around the site. During the next few weeks contractors will strip back to the brickwork both the abandoned nurses’ home and the adjoining single-storey Marie Foster Centre, ready for demolition.
Construction of the new home is likely to take around 18 months. It is due to open in early 2021 and will provide about 120 full and part-time jobs. Recruitment will start six months’ ahead of opening.
The main entrance will be via Cattley Close, resulting in the closure of the existing Wood Street access. The new home will face Wood Street and is being designed to sit closely on the existing footprint of the Marie Foster Centre and former nurses’ home.
Construction of the new home is likely to take around 18 months
A garden at the rear of the 2.5-acre site will be kept as an open green space, although some of it will be converted into a 47-space car park for staff and visitors.
When it opened in 1973, the former Marie Foster Centre, named after a Potters Bar housewife, was the first purpose-built home in the country for the care of young people suffering from multiple sclerosis.
The late Mrs Marie Foster, herself an MS sufferer, led fund-raising efforts for what was then considered a highly innovative level of care for people with neuro-muscular disabilities.
Inside the entrance to the centre is a commemorative plaque unveiled by the Duchess of Gloucester when she opened the Marie Foster Centre in November 1973.
The Barnet Society hopes the plaque can be preserved and incorporated inside the new building in expectation that it will become a talking point for residents and visitors to the new care home.