Campaigners given time to raise money to buy Southwold Hospital

The Save Our Southwold (Hospital) campaign. PHOTO: Nick Butcher

The Save Our Southwold (Hospital) campaign. PHOTO: Nick Butcher - Credit: Nick Butcher

A former hospital up for sale looks set to be kept off the market to give campaigners time to put together a bid after a council voted to express an interest in the site.

NHS Property Services formally declared its intention to sell Southwold Hospital earlier this year, after it was closed by Great Yarmouth and Waveney clinical commissioning group HealthEast. But because the historic building has been named as an asset of community value, NHS Property Services has had to give campaigners an opportunity to express an interest in buying it.

Southwold Town Council voted unanimously this week to declare a non-binding interest in the site, as it had argued for the building to be given a special status. That means the building's owner has to delay the sale until January 25 to give residents the chance to raise the estimated £1million needed to by the building.

There is still a long way to go, with the Save Our Southwold (Hospital) campaign currently trying to raise £12,000 needed for a feasibility study - which includes a structural survey and a business plan to determine the best uses for the site.

However Laurence Vulliamy, chairman of the campaign, said the money raised so far in the campaign was a 'great demonstration for the community's support for this project'.

A flea market and hog roast held in South Green, Southwold last month raised more than £3,000 towards the cause, with a further £2,000 collected from after sales and donations.

The Save Our Southwold (Hospital) campaign has also attracted 300 members. 'With other commitments we expect to have £7,000 in the bank but that still leaves us £5,000 to raise,' Mr Vulliamy said. A coffee morning was held yesterday (Thursday, September 1) to further boost funds, while a stall will be set up in the town centre on Thursday, September 29.

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There are also plans for a sponsored bike ride and Southwold Town Council has agreed to donate up to £1,000 towards the feasibility study should fund-raisers fall short.

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