A disused church in the heart of Hove is likely to be converted into a medical centre to house two doctors’ surgeries.
Sackville Road and Central Hove surgeries could move into Holy Trinity Church in Blatchington Road by the end of next year if the conversion goes ahead as planned.
Residents and patients are being asked to have their say on the plans at drop-in sessions being held at the former church.
The move is being overseen by Brighton and Hove City Teaching Primary Care Trust (PCT).
The PCT – also known as NHS Brighton and Hove – has been working to find new locations for surgeries that have existing premises which fall short of the highest NHS standards.
The PCT said that Sackville Road and Central Hove surgeries were both in overcrowded accommodation with poor access for disabled patients and no room to expand their services.
Chris Naylor, the PCT’s estates manager, said: “After a long search for suitable new premises, both we and the practices feel that the Holy Trinity site could be an excellent new home, but we want to hear what local people think before we submit a planning application to the city council.
“Our plan involves building a spacious, fully accessible medical centre on three floors within the shell of the listed church building.
“This scheme would save the church from risk of demolition and retain what is a landmark building for the good of the community.”
The plans, which are at an early stage, can be viewed and discussed at two drop-in sessions in the church hall at Holy Trinity.
The sessions are on Wednesday 30 March from 1pm to 3pm and Thursday 31 March from 5pm to 7pm.
Patients and local residents are invited to give their views and outline which services they would like a new medical centre to provide.
GPs and representatives of the PCT, the Church of England and the building developer will be at both sessions.
If the surgeries are relocated to the medical centre, they will share much of the space including a minor surgery suite, patient facilities and waiting areas.
The plan has raised questions about whether the old Gala Bingo Hall site in Portland Road and the Caffyns site in Kingsway are still likely to house a surgery. The PCT says that they are unrelated and options for these sites will be considered separately.
Dr Charlotte Hall, senior partner at Central Hove Surgery in Ventnor Villas, said: “This proposal appears to be a cost-effective way of relocating from our current premises to a spacious, modern centre.
“It could give us an opportunity to expand the services we offer, and also enable other health services to book clinic space so many patients could be seen locally rather than having to travel to hospital for treatment.”
Dr Tim McMinn, senior partner at Sackville Road surgery and co-chair of the local practice based commissioning group, said: “We’re delighted with this potential opportunity.
“Making use of this unique and beautiful building would keep us in the midst of our patient community while giving us the space to add new services for patients to our general practice work.”
Scott Ralph, churches project officer for the Church of England’s Diocese of Chichester, said that the grade II listed church building had been closed since September 2008.
He said that it was closed because of damp and the poor condition of its heating and electrical systems.
He said: “The legal scheme for the proposed new use of Holy Trinity will be published in due course by the Church Commissioners.
“Members of the public will have the opportunity to make representations for or against the proposals as part of this process.”
A design for the proposed medical centre has been produced by architects Deacon and Richardson, of Upper Lewes Road, Brighton.
If the proposals go ahead as planned, the building and grounds will be developed by Hove-based Embrace Properties.
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