Campaign group hopes that public shares will save Southwold Hospital

Southwold Hospital closed down back in 2015. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Southwold Hospital closed down back in 2015. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Archant

People are being encouraged to buy 'shares' to help raise the cash needed to turn the former Southwold Hospital into a community project.

Southwold Hospital SOS Campaign. Picture: NICK BUTCHER

Southwold Hospital SOS Campaign. Picture: NICK BUTCHER - Credit: Archant

Save Our Southwold (SOS) has launched the 'Community Shares' scheme and is also looking at various options for the site after being asked to increase its offer for the property.

Southwold Town Crier, David Burrows, used his inaugural cry to invite the community to purchase shares for the development.

The shares, which cost £25 each, will mean members of the public can own one share and each shareholder has one vote at the company's annual general meeting, with all profits to go back to the community.

The SOS group has been trying to save the hospital since its closure nearly two years ago.

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Earlier this year, the group submitted an offer to NHS Property Services in the hope of transforming the hospital into a community asset.

Back in April, it was announced that the SOS campaign wanted to stop the building from being sold to residential developers.

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

A statement on the SOS website said: 'We have put in a 'community offer' to NHS Propco which they are considering. Their agent Savills is asking us to raise the bid, but we are looking at all the options, whether we should have more residential units, both market and affordable, but that could mean less community and business space.

'We formed a Community Benefit Society called The Southwold and Waveney Valley Regeneration Society Ltd or SouthGen for short. This company is a limited company, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, and has a board of directors. This company will buy the site, if we are successful, and will own and manage the site in the future. SOS will continue to be the campaigning and fundraising arm of SouthGen.

'We have also launched a Community Shares issue, to raise money in the community to develop the site. Anybody can own shares in this special project, and support the campaign.'

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