Historic site has ambitious plans

The Great Hospital in Norwich is set for the most ambitious development in its 750-year history with a £5m plan for flats for its elderly residents.

The Great Hospital in Norwich is set for the most ambitious development in its 750-year history with a £5m plan for flats for its elderly residents.

Trustees have revealed in more detail their vision for the 33 flats, which would allow the Great Hospital's 128 residents to continue living within the ancient site when their care needs increase.

The proposals, which were first mooted in October last year, have been redrawn to transform the seven-acre sprawl of buildings off Bishopgate and demolish eight, unlisted 20th-century cottages.

Master Dorothy North said: "Traditionally, residents have had to move accommodation within the site as their level of frailty increases. This is disruptive and emotionally draining - and comes at a time when individuals are at their most vulnerable.

"We want residents of the Great Hospital to be able to live in their own home whatever their state of health.

"We want to be able to offer residents care at home rather than their having to move into residential care."

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Existing accommodation has already been adapted where possible to free up the space required for wheelchairs, hoists and lifts, and staff have been re-trained to give care to residents in their own homes.

The development would not affect listed buildings other than to increase access to the 14th-century cloister, but would mean the removal of the eight Holme Cottages and 12 parking spaces.

"In spite of these cottages being modified many times since being built in 1907, it is simply not possible to adapt them further to provide the space and facilities needed for the provision of long-term care," said Ms North.

"There is a long history of removing unsuitable buildings on the site to enable the Great Hospital to continue to offer the best possible care to its residents, and also to allow supreme examples of period architecture such as the medieval cloisters, the Thomas Ivory-designed St Helen's House and the Victorian Birkbeck Hall to be preserved and appreciated."

Chairman of trustees Mike Brookes said the Great Hospital had commissioned architects Cowper Griffith to produce plans which helped staff offer an improved level of care while maintaining the character of the site.

They correspond with English Heritage's declared strategy for 2006/8, promoting sustainable change to England's historic environ-ment, and have been re-submitted to the city council.

"The Great Hospital has the longest continuous past of any single care facility in Britain, now is our chance to secure its future and improve still further the levels of care and service we can provide," said Ms North.

The Great Hospital was founded in 1249 as an almshouse with a duty to care for the citizens of the city and to this day remains a non-profit-making charity with the remit to provide care for elderly Norwich residents with limited means.