A petition has been signed by hundreds of people opposed to the sale of the Brighton General Hospital site.
The campaigners behind the petition plan to protest outside Hove Town Hall before handing in the petition to Brighton and Hove City Council on Thursday (25 July).
The Brighton General Hospital Action Group said that 1,800 people had signed its petition and added: “The existing proposals and the consultation so far are wholly inadequate.
“This public land must remain a public asset for the people of Brighton and Hove.”
They are concerned about plans by the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, which include building a new health hub on part of the site.
The trust is expected to sell or lease the rest of the 11-acre site for housing to fund the building of the health hub.
Campaigners want any new homes to be council housing for rent – or the equivalent – or homes for key workers such as nurses.
The proposed health hub is likely to be built where the ambulance station is currently based, with a new ambulance base being built in Falmer next to The Keep archive centre.
The grade II listed Arundel Building – built as a workhouse in the 1860s – seems likely to be converted into premium-priced flats.
And there are suggestions that some of the site could be sold to Homes for Brighton and Hove – the joint venture between the council and Hyde housing association.
The £120 million joint venture aims to build at least 1,000 truly affordable homes for local low-wage workers in Brighton and Hove.
It already has planning permission for 242 homes in Coldean and hopes to be win approval for a further 111 homes in Portslade in September.
Its plans for a site in Whitehawk fell through earlier this year, with some of the same opponents now targeting the Brighton General Hospital proposals.
The Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust board is currently waiting to learn whether its outline business case for the site will be approved.
The last in-patient bed on the site closed 10 years ago and the current buildings have been described as no longer fit for purpose.
The Brighton General Hospital Action Group called for “a more meaningful and extensive public consultation on the potential NHS, housing and community uses for this site”.
The group also wanted health chiefs to “explore further NHS uses such as community beds” which could address problems with bed blocking at places like the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
The campaigners called for “Brighton and Hove City Council to purchase the site” and to “ensure housing built on this site includes housing for social rent and key workers and addresses the needs of homeless people in the city”.
The group plans to protest outside Hove Town Hall from 3.30pm to 4pm on Thursday (25 July) before handing in its petition.
It hopes for cross-party support for its aims from Labour, Green and Conservative councillors.
The group added: “The redevelopment of the Brighton General Hospital site by the Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust offers a unique opportunity to address urgent health, housing and social care needs in the city.
“The existing proposals and the consultation so far are wholly inadequate. This public land must remain a public asset for the people of Brighton and Hove.”
At a recent public meeting Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, said: “The NHS is facing a recruitment crisis so it doesn’t make sense to ignore the opportunity that the Brighton General site offers to develop properly affordable housing, which is out of reach for so many people in the city, including many key workers.”
Lloyd Russell-Moyle, the Labour MP for Brighton Kemptown, said: “Decades of privatisation of public assets have failed our communities, be that in education, housing or health.
“The number one priority must be to keep this land in public hands, which is why this community campaign is so important.
“I have every faith that the local council are going to do everything in their power to achieve that aim and I would call on the NHS to come to the table and work constructively for what is best for our community.”
Carolyn Pickering, from Sussex Defend the NHS, said: “Our NHS is being dismantled with rapidly increasing privatisation and reductions in services.
“Vulnerable people are being abandoned and neglected.
“We must have a publicly funded, run and accountable community health hub and community beds on this site to provide health care free at the point of use, open to all.”
The Brighton General Hospital Action Group, which was set up a year ago “to fight the sale of the site to the private sector”, said that it brought together “a powerful campaigning coalition, including the Living Rent Campaign, community association representatives, Save Whitehawk Hill, Brighton Housing Coalition, Sussex Defend the NHS (and) homelessness campaigners from across the city”.
The group added: “There are over 15,000 people on the housing waiting list with hundreds of homeless people in the city.
“NHS services are suffering from a rapidly growing recruitment crisis as potential workers cannot afford to move to the city.
“As recognised by the Sussex Community Foundation Trust and Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust, too many people are trapped in hospital because of the lack of appropriate step-down provision.”
To sign the petition, click here.