Hope for future of Southwold Hospital site

Southwold Hospital.

Southwold Hospital. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Community groups could get a 'wonderful opportunity' to take over Southwold's former hospital after being given the right to bid first on the site whenever it is put up for sale.

Residents across the town campaigned against the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) HealthEast's plans to close Southwold Hospital.

But after the CCG decided to go ahead with the closure, many groups in the town said it should be retained for the community.

So Southwold Town Council applied for the hospital to be designated an asset of community value under the Localism Act 2011, which means should the NHS look to sell the site the community would be given a short period of time to create a business plan and put in a bid.

However at a full meeting of Southwold Town Council on Tuesday (January 26) councillors warned that while the application - which has now been approved - was great news: 'It's not going to be easy.'

'Such a large site would be such a bonus for the community,' said Southwold town councillor Will Windell at Tuesday's meeting, where more than 50 residents were present to hear about the plans for the site's future.

'This community is slowly, slowly diminishing and we need to find ways to bring people back into the town and businesses back into the town.

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'The hospital is somewhere where you could have a community hub.

'With some imagination and some further thinking, I think this could do well - but I think it is going to be a lot of work.'

After the meeting, Southwold mayor Melanie Tucker said the huge public turnout at the meeting 'showed the strength of our community'.

Any group or individual interested in becoming involved in helping with the idea should email townclerk@southwoldtowncouncil.com

What would you like to see the Southwold Hospital site used for? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk

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