Opponents resolute on future of Bartlet

HEALTH chiefs expect proposals to turn Felixstowe's closed Bartlet Hospital into upmarket apartments to be unveiled later in the year, it was revealed today.

Richard Cornwell

HEALTH chiefs expect proposals to turn Felixstowe's closed Bartlet Hospital into upmarket apartments to be unveiled later in the year, it was revealed today.

Campaigners are hoping the deal to sell the landmark will fall through - and are making plans for their own bid to buy it.

But Suffolk Primary Care Trust says the agreement with developers PJ Livesey Group is progressing as planned.

In a letter to Roy Gray, chairman of the Save Our Felixstowe Hospitals action group, PCT chief executive Carole Taylor-Brown said talks were taking place with the developers and planning officers at Suffolk Coastal District Council.

She said a planning application was now expected to be submitted later in the year.

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Mr Gray said: “I think the situation is pretty much as we expected though the process is taking much longer than we thought.

“The Bartlet has been closed for a year now and I am going to ask under Freedom of Information just how much that is costing us.

“The building has been just left to stand empty and on top of that we have security costs to make sure no-one damages it.”

No details have been made available yet of how many flats the PJ Livesey Group believes it can create in the building, which has panoramic sea views, or its annexe, part of the original Bath Hotel torched by Suffragettes.

The complex also features part of a Martello Tower and has been listed for its architectural importance.

The sale will only go through if planning permission is granted for a viable flats conversion scheme and the Bartlet Bequest Action Group is planning to fight any planning application all the way, arguing that a community use should be considered first.

The group has drawn up proposals to use the Bartlet as a recuperative centre, featuring convalescent and respite care, and a base for support groups with possible accommodation for soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is currently talking to backers to put together a financial package.

Chairman Barry Farr said: “We truly believe there is still a chance to use the Bartlet for a project which will make it a centre of excellence and which will benefit the whole community in the way the building was always intended and in a way in which turning it into flats never will.”

The Bartlet became surplus to requirements following changes to convalescent care with patients now sent home from hospital to be looked after by travelling care teams.

Should the Bartlet be turned into fancy apartments? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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