Cheap homes for nurses are to be built on part of the Brighton General Hospital site if an ambitious £200 million scheme goes ahead.
Outline plans for 630 homes were presented to members of Brighton and Hove City Council and the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) at Hove Town Hall this week.
They were told that some of the homes were likely to be made available for nurses and other key workers.
They will be as affordable as possible, with local health chiefs, bosses at the Royal Sussex County Hospital and council representatives having held preliminary discussions.
The initial details were shared in a presentation to the Brighton and Hove Health and Wellbeing Board and included early-stage visualisations of the housing plans as well as a community health hub.
The site, at the top of Elm Grove, is also expected to include a new headquarters building for the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust which owns the site.
The trust will need approval from NHS chiefs to sell the land, including the listed Victorian workhouse building, to fund the building of a health hub.
Mike Jennings, the trust’s director of finance and estates, and his colleague Geoff Braterman, said that the health hub would include a GP surgery and pharmacy, along with existing services for mental health, podiatry and early parenting.
Members of the Health and Wellbeing Board quizzed the pair on Tuesday (13 November).
Elm Grove and Hanover councillor Dick Page, a Green, asked to what extent the health hub was linked to the rest of the site being sold to a developer.
He said: “It will contribute a massive amount to the city’s housing needs.
“There is a lot of will from elected representatives and a lot of concern about selling off public land.
“There is a lot of interest in it being public housing and truly affordable and for key workers.”
Councillor Page also welcomed the GP surgery and pharmacy proposed for the site.
Mr Jennings said that the sale of land or housing was vital to cover the cost of the health hub.
He said: “We want to be able to say a proportion of the housing is truly affordable and key worker housing.
“We want to align with our workforce and our partners’ workforce needs.”
Rottingdean Coastal councillor Lynda Hyde, a Conservative, asked for assurance that a GP surgery would be included on the site.
Describing herself as a “very long-term member” of the council’s Planning Committee, she said that she was sceptical.
Councillor Hyde said: “I can count on all my fingers and all my toes the number of times planning applications have come in with the promise of a GP surgery and none of them have ever materialised.
“But I know it helps to ease a planning application.”
Mr Jennings said that the trust wanted to include a GP surgery on site, describing it as a key element as doctors would be able to work closely with district nurses based at the hub
Labour councillor Karen Barford, who chairs the Health and Wellbeing Board, praised the effort being made by the trust to ensure the steep-sided site was easier to get around for patients.
The proposed health hub would be reached from the pavement in Elm Grove, close to bus stops.
The ambulance station would go. South East Coast Ambulance Service is building a new base, described as a “make-ready centre”, next to The Keep in Falmer.
Councillor Barford said: “I was pleased to note the focus on accessibility because, without levelling off Elm Grove, it is a major issue.
“I was interested in the car parking and how you’ve engaged with the bus service.”
She asked for the proposals to come back to the board once the full business case had been approved which is expected to be in about a year’s time.