'I buy buildings and make them work': Businessman reveals plan to buy Lowestoft Hospital
PUBLISHED: 13:39 19 October 2018
A Lowestoft businessman has revealed his intention to buy the town's closed hospital and transform it into a medical centre, despite a public campaign to stop the sale.
Peter Colby announced his plans to bid for Lowestoft Hospital, which closed in 2016, when it goes under the hammer at auction next week.
Mr Colby, of Peter Colby Commercials, agreed a deal earlier this month to buy Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court, which also closed in 2016.
He said: “It is my intention to buy Lowestoft Hospital next week. I buy buildings and make them work.
“I was in there on Wednesday looking around and it should not be knocked down. There is not much difference in the condition of that and other hospitals. The hospital must have been in a superb condition when it closed.
“I want to turn some of the building into houses, but I want to refurb the main block and I would like someone to take it on and make it work as a medical centre. My original idea was to turn the magistrates’ court into a medical centre.
“If it is knocked down it will never go back to being a hospital and that is not what anyone wants.”
Mr Colby announced his plans during a public meeting on Thursday at the United Reformed Church on London Road North as campaigners fight to stop the auction, which is due to take place on Thursday, October 25.
Jane Murray, Labour councillor for the Oulton ward on Waveney District Council, said: “Significant money went on refurbishing the hospital in the late 1990s and to close it two decades later is political vandalism.
“A public consultation was held and that went against the wishes of the local community.
“There are a lot of elderly people without cars and with mobility issues so just think how inconvenient, stressful and bad for their health it would be to make them go to a completely different location.
“We live in a world where big businesses offer a one-stop-shop with all services under one roof, so why in the world can they not listen to the community and do that there?
“Thousands of new homes are being built but we are still waiting for a new health centre in the town.
“This needs to be a priority for Lowestoft and a meaningful plan should be developed that fully meets the needs of the town and the NHS.”
During the meeting, local historian Chris Brooks spoke about the history of the hospital, which has been in the town since 1822.
Other residents spoke of the need to get younger voices interested in the campaign.
Bil Adnams, of Keep Our NHS Public Norfolk, said: “How can anyone say the hospital is not needed? They cannot. It is irresponsible to sell it.
“People fall through the net without a service in the town and that is a real danger.”
Wendy Brooks, of the Save Our Record Office campaign, also spoke at the meeting. She said: “People have put so much time and energy into this town.
“We have found phenomenal support and people have had enough of seeing the things Lowestoft people proudly built being ripped away and taken somewhere else.
“If you have a baby it is born in Norfolk. If you are in trouble with the police you will probably end up in court in Norfolk. We do not have those basic facilities.”
The NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG confirmed they are performing a feasibility study in north Lowestoft, but fell short of confirming whether the former hospital site was included in the study.
Cath Byford, deputy chief officer and director of commissioning with NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG, said: “Decisions were made a number of years ago that the Lowestoft Hospital site was no longer viable for the provision modern health services and the CCG continues to support that decision.
“The James Paget University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has been involved in a process over a number of years to redevelop or sell the site to make the best use of limited NHS resources, which the CCG supports.
“The CCG is in the process of undertaking a feasibility study in north Lowestoft for a health site, and as part of this are considering suitable sites available.”