Fate of Sudbury hospitals due to be decided

Walnuttree Hospital outpatients department

Walnuttree Hospital outpatients department

With the new Sudbury health centre due to open in January, the future of the town’s soon-to-be redundant hospital buildings looks set to be decided this week.

Initial plans for developing the Walnuttree Hospital site, submitted by West Suffolk Hospital NHS Trust last year, included a much needed community hall. But the trust later dropped the idea because it was not deemed cost effective.

Current plans, which will be discussed by Babergh District Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, are to use both the Walnuttree and the St Leonards hospital sites solely for housing.

Former hospital buildings at Walnuttree would be converted into 42 flats with an additional seven new town houses. The Victorian core of the building, which was originally a workhouse, would be retained as 36 flats with the remaining six created by converting the former outpatients building.

Meanwhile, St Leonards Hospital would be converted to provide three four-bedroom houses, and nine new homes would be built at the Newton Road site.

Both schemes have been recommended for approval by planning officers, subject to conditions. But the lack of community facilities and affordable housing has concerned some local groups including the Sudbury Society.

Their chairman Peter Thorogood accused the NHS trust of failing to consult local groups about the revised plans. However a spokesman for West Suffolk Hospital said it had always been clear that the inclusion of a community building would be “dependent on viability”.

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He added: “Extra homes would mean more funds to be ploughed back into healthcare services in the area.”

The planning meeting is at Babergh’s offices in Hadleigh at 9.30am this Wednesday.