Disagreements over the sum the trust would pay Wilky to use the building had been a major sticking point.

Trust chairman John Parker said: “I am delighted that we have had an offer from Wilky which now represents value for money. The scheme will represent a significant commitment of funds for vastly improved health facilities for the people of Aldershot. Since the PCT assumed responsibility for the scheme some ten months ago, staff and our advisers have worked hard to reach the point we have today. The challenge will now be to convert our vision into reality.”

It will be the largest health centre in the UK, incorporating the three GP surgeries at Aldershot Health Centre. Patients will be able to receive various treatments in one visit as a pharmacy, dentists and diagnostics will be included.

Trust chief executive Debbie Glenn said: “The PCT now has to develop a full business case for approval by the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Strategic Health Authority. We are planning to have this ready for consideration by the Strategic Health Authority at its board meeting on June 10.

“I would like to express my appreciation for the support the PCT has received during these negotiations from Rushmoor Borough Council’s councillors and officers, MP Gerald Howarth, and other groups and individuals.”

Wilky managing director Malcolm Young said: “We plan to start construction in the late summer, with a view to completing the building in the first half of 2005. A revised planning application, showing the enlarged centre, has already been lodged with Rushmoor Borough Council and we hope that an early decision can be taken on it.

“Together with the NHS, the council has been a staunch supporter of this project throughout, and we must acknowledge all the support the centre has received from councillors and from officers.”

It will include army primary care services and space for a minor injuries unit linked to Accident and Emergency at Frimley Park Hospital.

Garrison Commander Col Stephen Oxlade said: “I am delighted that the PCT is able to take forward the scheme that will include healthcare facilities for the army. I look forward to continuing this partnership between the NHS and the army and seeing the project through to completion.”

Rushmoor chief executive Andrew Lloyd said: “The final offer from Wilky tilted significantly the bid’s value for money and made it the most attractive option. Both the trust and Wilky have made clear their wish to fast-track the project from here. I believe that it is essential that we now put our unequivocal support behind the project, and have agreed with the trust that we will hold a meeting between their chief executive, chairman and our small member steering group as soon as possible.”

Mr Howarth said: “I am absolutely delighted and greatly relieved that the PCT board voted so emphatically for the Hospital Hill project. I have ar-gued all along that the propos-ed joint civil and military project would offer both the town and the garrison a first-class facility and the best option.

“During the recent intense negotiations I have had dis-cussions not only with the Trust but also with the Secretary of State for Defence and the Minister of State for Health.

“It is a relief that the decision has now been made. The people of Aldershot have had to wait far too long for this vital facility but I am glad that it is finally under way.”