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Brighton General Hospital development

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There is a 38Degrees petition doing the rounds at the moment called Stop the Theft and is sponsored by the Brighton General Hospital Action Group (BGHAC) which is campaigning to keep the Brighton General Hospital site in public ownership. So far there are over 2000 signatures.

Details of the petition and how to sign it can be found at:
https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-the-theft-of-brighton-general-hospital-site-keep-it-public.

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust plan to sell the Brighton General Hospital for development and create a new Community Health Hub.

BGHAC rightly question whether selling the site to a private developer is the right policy given that the site was originally gifted to the people of Brighton.  

We agree, particularly when there is much concern currently being expressed about how the increase in the value of development land maximises developers’ profits and fails make any real contribution to the public interest, or to share the consequent massive increases in land values with local authorities.  Nationally and locally this serious imbalance has directly caused the current housing crisis and is responsible for the lack of affordable housing in the true sense of the word. 

The 10 acre site, including the Grade II listed Arundel building with the clock tower, is one of our city’s greatest public assets. Since the hospital closed to in-patients in 2009, some buildings have been allowed by the Trust to fall into serious disrepair and are boarded up.  400 NHS workers in a range of services are currently based on the site.

One of five options being considered for the BGH site. This gives an idea of the scale of the proposal

Brighton General Hospital Action Group believe that this public land must remain a public asset for the people of Brighton and Hove and consider that this site redevelopment offers the opportunity to address some of the much needed, and urgent, health, social care and housing needs in the city, and would result in an innovative, publicly owned funded and run mix of NHS and social care provision as well as including some council housing.  They are concerned that the current proposals fail to achieve this ambition.

They make the following proposals:

1.Conduct a more meaningful and extensive public consultation on the potential uses for this site – NHS, housing and community. 


2. Explore further NHS uses for this site – such as community beds. 


3. Brighton and Hove city to purchase the site. 


4. Ensure any housing built on this site includes housing for social rent, keyworker housing and addresses the needs of homeless people in the city.

The Brighton & Hove Heritage Commission has proposed that the BGH site be designated as a Conservation Area. It says it has received the backing of the Council heritage department, and that officers would be happy to progress the proposal after receiving feedback from interested community groups.

 

 

The Brighton Society supports all these aims but would suggest that any campaign should be based on more than the twin aims of a petition to keep the site in public ownership, and a new Conservation Area.  A wider co-ordinated campaign is needed to ensure the following key policies are successfully achieved:

  • Number one is to make sure the site doesn’t fall into the hands of developers to do what they like with. That would result in yet another big, expensive development with little or no affordable housing component. (In planning speak this usually means 80% is at market rate – ie unaffordable.
  • Number 2 is to carry out a full consultation which will involve a wide range of community groups and individuals
  • Number three is to ensure that the existing buildings are conserved as an important part of Brighton’s built urban heritage.
  • Number four is to come up with a design which will sympathetically convert and restore the existing buildings, provide new buildings which are in scale and character with the older buildings, and  to provide a variety of uses including truly affordable housing, all of which will make a significant contribution to the city and the local community.
  • Number five – and most important – is to create a management/development process which will achieve all these objectives. That’s probably the most difficult one.

It will involve persuading our cash-strapped Council to invest funds and commitment into it and it will need cross-party support amongst our divided councillors.

But it is a campaign definitely worth promoting vigorously to gain public and cross-political support.

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