Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and Dartmouth Town Council are working together to explore whether the community can buy the former Dartmouth Hospital site, and whether its redevelopment could include uses specifically to benefit people in and around Dartmouth. They now want to hear about what new facilities local people would like to see on the site.
The former hospital site is no longer needed for healthcare and will be sold to help fund a new, £4.8m Health and Wellbeing Centre being built at the top of the town. This will replace the current GP facilities and Dartmouth Clinic and include space for community nurses, therapists, social care workers, as well as Dartmouth Caring and a pharmacy. The new centre will support a much more joined-up approach to health and wellbeing services for local people in state-of-the-art, purpose-designed facilities.
Adrien Cooper, Interim Director of Environment for Torbay and South Devon said: “We recognise that the former hospital is dear to local people’s hearts and occupies a prime waterfront site. It closed almost five years ago, after a full consultation, and the time has now come to sell it. As we are a public sector organisation, there are some rules around how we do that, and we have to make sure we get a fair price for the site. But that doesn’t mean we have to sell to the highest bidder. Our preference is that local people benefit from any development. That’s why we are supporting Dartmouth Town Council to explore whether a community bid for the site is possible. We are putting everything we can into this, and want to see the power of partnership working come good here.”
Dartmouth Town Councillor, Ged Yardy, added: “It is a huge ask for the community to come together and create an economically viable bid for this site over the coming months. It’s bigger than anything we have had to fund before and timescales are tight. But we are exploring every funding avenue open to us, in a bid to deliver facilities that local people want for our town. Of course, there will need to be some commercial elements of any development to help pay for community facilities, and with support from the Trust we are working on a development brief that we believe would give us both economic and social benefits.”
The Trust needs the funds from the sale by the end of March 2023, to pay its build costs for the new Health and Wellbeing Centre. If a community bid proves not to be possible, the site will be advertised for sale on the open market in the second half of 2022. In that case, the Trust and Town Council would share their development brief with interested parties, but would not be able to influence any future development on the site.
The Trust and the Council are asking local people to share their views in a survey being run for them by the independent health and social care champion, Healthwatch. The survey is live now and runs until 08 December. People can access the survey online https://surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DartmouthHospital
Printed copies of the survey are also being distributed to a range of local venues for collection and return via Freepost to Healthwatch.
Places where people will be able to pick up a printed copy of the survey include:
• post offices in Kingswear, Townstal (BP garage) and Dittisham
• Blackawton Community Shop
• Stoke Fleming Village Hall
• Townstal Spar
• Dartmouth Town Council offices
• Dartmouth Medical Practice
• Dartmouth Clinic
After the closing date, Healthwatch will collate all responses into an independent report to share with the Council and the Trust in early 2022.
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