Felixstowe: Stalemate over future of Bartlet hospital site

FELIXSTOWE: Campaigners’ successful bid to have the former Bartlet Hospital “listed” for its architectural merit is preventing its conversion to luxury flats, it was revealed today.

Re-use of the building, pictured, which overlooks Felixstowe seafront, still seems a long way off – with no one able to agree how the work should be done.

Owners NHS Suffolk though refuse to give up because sale of the Bartlet with planning permission for flats – which would increase the value of the site off Bath Hill and make it easier to sell – could generate up to �1million to invest in medical care across the county.

The stalemate, though, is becoming frustrating – and there have been calls for a compromise to be reached.

A spokesman for NHS Suffolk said: “NHS Suffolk is working closely with the district council and English Heritage to acquire a commercially viable planning permission for the redevelopment of the whole of the Bartlet site, which includes the annexe.

“This would secure the sale of the site to a developer and gain the best price in the current market. Previous attempts to sell the site without planning permission have not been successful.

“The Bartlet is a grade II* listed building which needs to be sensitively redeveloped. However if this long-standing situation is to be moved forward, a compromise needs to be reached on all sides.

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“It is intended that the money from the sale of the site will be ploughed back in to other NHS healthcare schemes in Suffolk for the benefit of the community.”

A Suffolk Coastal council spokeswoman said: “We are continuing to work well with NHS Suffolk’s planning team and English Heritage in ongoing informal discussions.

“We are keen to see the building in use again and are working hard to develop plans that will see a high-quality new use for the building that also recognises and protects the important historical character of the Grade II* listed building.”

The main stumbling blocks, apparently, are how the annexe, a part of the original Bath Hotel and for many years a nurses’ home, should be used, and the preservation of the Nightingale Ward, former restaurant, tiles, and other artefacts.

The Bartlet Bequest Action Group still hopes to secure the building to run as a “health village” – a mix of rehabilitation and respite care, beds for soldiers with war injuries, NHS clinics, complementary health services and community activities – and is trying to raise funding.

n What do you think should become of the Bartlet? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN.

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