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Save Our Southwold campaign group announces bid for hospital site at public meeting

PUBLISHED: 21:26 20 April 2017 | UPDATED: 21:54 20 April 2017

Speakers at the Save Our Southwold public meeting, Picture: Amy Smith

Speakers at the Save Our Southwold public meeting, Picture: Amy Smith

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The group fighting to ensure the former Southwold hospital site remains open for community use has submitted an offer to NHS Property Services.

The packed crowd at St Edmund's Hall in Southwold for the meeting. Picture: Amy SmithThe packed crowd at St Edmund's Hall in Southwold for the meeting. Picture: Amy Smith

The news was announced at a public meeting this evening, called by members of the Save Our Southwold hospital (SOS) campaign, who want to keep the building from being sold to developers for a full residential scheme.

Instead the group wants to buy and develop the hospital - which closed in December 2015 - to provide a business and digital tech hub, an expanded home for the library, a crèche and farm-to-fork café, along with affordable homes.

And Laurence Vulliamy, chairman of SOS, was pleased to tell the crowd that their offer for the site is being considered, although he said they still have a long way to go.

The group also displayed the most recent architectural proposals and invited representatives from companies and organisations supporting the bid to explain more about their involvement.

Southwold Hospital  PHOTO: Nick ButcherSouthwold Hospital PHOTO: Nick Butcher

Mr Vulliamy said: “The key centre of the plans include preserving the original 1903 hospital building and demolishing the 1970s wings and all the other additions and replacing those buildings with housing which would be clustered around a new business and community hub.

“Some housing is necessary to pay for the purchase and development of the site.”

To help with the housing, SOS has formed a relationship with Hastoe, which specialises in providing sustainable and affordable rural housing.

John Lefever, regional head of Hastoe, said: “We are trying to give the core funding money off the back of seven houses or flats. I can’t commit today to the tenures of those, we are a housing association so my core business is the delivery of affordable homes for local people.

The Save Our Southwold hospital campaign group held a second public meeting. Picture: Amy SmithThe Save Our Southwold hospital campaign group held a second public meeting. Picture: Amy Smith

“What I can tell you is that Hastoe is committed to sustainability so those houses will be built to an exceptionally high standard.”

SOS is also receiving support from Waveney District Council, TechEast, which works to accelerate the growth of the digital tech economy in the East, and The Prince’s Regeneration Trust Brick programme, which will mentor members on skills needed going forward and funding streams.

Money to purchase the site will come from the funds committed by Hastoe and pledges already received for community shares. Those at the meeting, and anyone else interested in supported the project, are also being urged to sign up to the shares scheme.

Closing the meeting, Southwold Town Councillor Jessica Jeans said: “If our bid is not accepted we will fight. This community is very good at fighting. It’s also very good at fighting smart and winning and we will take this as far as we can go.”

For more details visit: www.sosa.help

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