The NHS and city council are in talks over the possibility of part of the Brighton General site being sold to the council for affordable housing.
Sussex Community NHS Trust has this week released images which show the terrible state of some of the buildings as it explains why plans to redevelop the site are taking so long.
The plans involve selling off large parts of the site to fund a new health centre – which has sparked a campaign demanding the land remains in public hands.
Now the trust is talking to Brighton and Hove City Council about whether that possibility can be made a reality.
Trust chief executive Siobhan Melia said: “This project provides an opportunity for building a significant number of new houses in East Brighton and we are well aware of the need for more affordable homes for local people and NHS staff in the city.
“New housing is needed to fund the health hub and new health buildings are needed to release land for housing, so we’re working with Brighton and Hove City Council to explore ways to balance both aspects of the project in a way that is affordable.
“We have met with colleagues at the council to discuss the possibility of them purchasing the site and are continuing to explore this option as we develop the next stage of the business case.”
A council spokeswoman said: “We are working together to ensure we achieve maximum benefit for residents from this important key site owned by Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust.
“We also want the site to provide housing that is affordable for local people, especially essential health and social care workers. Brighton and Hove City Council is supporting the trust to find practical ways of making this happen and identify funding.”
The site includes the Grade II listed Arundel buiding, a former workhouse, as well as other NHS buildings, most of which are disused and cost the NHS £1.5million a year just to keep safe.
The site was briefly earmarked as a possible site for a new secondary school, but those plans have since been abandoned as the number of school age children living in the city is falling.
Ms Melia added: “Since we announced our plan to redevelop the Brighton General site and build a new Health Hub, we’ve talked a lot about current buildings not being fit for delivering 21st century patient care or a healthy working environment for staff.
“We’re releasing video footage to demonstrate the case for change in a new way, by showing what visitors to the site don’t often see – buildings that are closed down and no longer needed but still cost the NHS £1.5m a year just to keep safe.
“Our plan isn’t about privatisation or generating a profit. Every penny raised from the sale of land for housing development will be invested back into an NHS-owned Health Hub.
“We are so pleased with the level of support already expressed for our Health Hub plan from local health and care staff, residents, patients and community groups and are keen to move on to the next stage of the programme.
“In order to do this, we need to ensure that we have answered all questions about how the Hub can be funded and delivered and this requires further technical work from the Trust and assessment by our regulators, NHS Improvement.
“We will update people as and when things change so we can continue to involve staff, patients and local people in conversations about this programme.”
Today the former hospital site provides a range of community, mental health and outpatient services. Much of the estate is used for offices or team bases for staff working in the community, for mental health services (provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust) and social care services (provided by Brighton and Hove City Council).
Other current users of the site, such as Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, are considering whether their services need to be located on site, given that the Royal Sussex County Hospital is undergoing a £485 million redevelopment less than a mile away.
It is hoped that NHS Improvement approval will give the go-ahead to the start of the Health Hub’s Full Business Case development and further public consultation in the first half of 2020.
The current preferred design option for the Health Hub includes a seven-storey building with street-level access, set back from Elm Grove, housing specialist children’s social services, GP, mental health and children’s health services, a pharmacy and space that can be used as consulting rooms and for community activities such as yoga classes or physiotherapy.
In addition, a new building will house a brand new Sussex Rehabilitation Centre for patients in need of stroke, wheelchair and prosthetic limb services.
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