The Brighton General Hospital is to be turned into flats with a new community health hub built on the site.
The ambitious scheme was approved by health chiefs in a meeting on the Brighton General site this afternoon (Thursday 25 October).
While the process has more hurdles to clear, the decision by the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust (SCFT) board is a key stage in paving the way for hundreds of new homes and easier-to-reach clinics.
The trust considered five options for the Brighton General site and put its ideas out for consultation.
The preferred option will mean a health hub closer to bus stops in Elm Grove, making clinics easier to reach than the ageing buildings currently in use on the steep site.
The trust said: “Under the plan, all of the trust’s clinical and back office teams currently based at the site will be at the hub, unless patients or the services provided by SCFT would benefit from a future move. It could also see primary care and pharmacy services brought in.”
The trust’s chief executive Siobhan Melia said: “This ambitious plan is a once in a lifetime opportunity to ensure that the local NHS and community services in particular can meet the changing needs of local people.
“I want to thank the many hundreds of patients, staff and members of the public that have been in touch with us to help shape this project.”
The trust will now start detailed design work, with its plans still subject to the approval of clinical commissioners, the regulator NHS Improvement and Brighton and Hove City Council.
With NHS organisations struggling to recruit all the staff they need, in part because of high living costs, one of the housing options could include low-cost homes for health workers. Executives at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, the trust that runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital, is exploring options.
And the council is expected to look at whether the site might be suitable for its £120 million joint venture with Hyde, the housing association, as plans for 1,000 cheap homes for local workers are taken forward.
SCFT, which provides NHS services in homes, schools, clinics and hospitals across Sussex, said that it had engaged with patients, staff, local residents and community groups to gather views and to help ensure that its plans reflected local needs.
It added: “Brighton General Hospital was built in the 1860s as a Victorian workhouse, becoming an NHS hospital in 1948. Its wards fell below required standards and in 2009 the last inpatient beds were removed.
“The redevelopment of the Brighton General site, only half of which is currently being used by the NHS, is essential to help fund the creation of a modern, purpose-built health and care facility.”