Former Bridge School to become temporary 200-space car park and helipad for Ipswich Hospital

The former Bridge School in Heath Road, Ipswich, before demolition

The former Bridge School in Heath Road, Ipswich, before demolition - Credit: Gregg Brown

Work to redevelop the former Bridge School next to Ipswich Hospital could begin as early as next month if plans are approved – with the site set to become a temporary car park with 200 spaces and an air ambulance helipad.

Ipswich Hospital acquired the site last year after the primary campus of the Bridge School moved to a purpose-built new facility in Sprites Lane.

And while firm plans for the area’s long term future are still being considered, a planning application was submitted on Tuesday to demolish the buildings and level the site to provide 200 additional parking spaces and an on-site helipad for air ambulances to land close to the A&E unit.

Paul Fenton, director of estates at The Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust said: “The trust wishes to redevelop the vacant site as part of a long-term strategy of improvements to the hospital estate.

“We are currently applying for prior approval for the demolition of the former school buildings. Once the site has been cleared, we will look to use the land to provide a temporary car park and a purpose designed emergency helicopter landing area, subject to securing necessary planning permission.

“This will provide improved facilities for receiving trauma care patients by air ambulance. This will also create approximately 200 extra car parking spaces, allowing more parking for patients and visitors close to clinical services on the main hospital site, as well as additional parking for staff on the former school area.”

It is understood that 100 of the extra spaces will be available to visitors while another 100 will be for staff.

Currently air ambulances have to land in the nearby Copleston High School field which backs onto the hospital’s grounds, but the new helipad would help further reduce journey times for emergencies.

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East Anglian Air Ambulance medical director Alastair Wilson said: “We are delighted at the news that Ipswich Hospital are building a helipad. If only other chief executives in the NHS would be so inspired to act as Nick Hulme has done. With the addition of this helipad we will be able to land at Ipswich to deliver critically injured patients, and to pick patients up to transport them to other specialist centres. Well done Ipswich Hospital!”

The plans are currently in the consultation phase and due to go for approval in the first week of February.

If the proposals are given the green light, the hospital has outlined a plan of starting work as soon as February 6, and would aim to be completed by the end of March.

An information evening will also take place from 4-8pm on Thursday, February 2 in the hospital’s courtyard restaurant, where people will also be able to submit their views on what they would like to see developed on the site.”