Hospital redevelopment as community hub receives £75,000 boost

Jessica Jeans, chairwoman of SouthGen, pours the special Adnams beer over the rebuilt hospital

Jessica Jeans, chairwoman of SouthGen, pours a special Adnams beer over the rebuilt hospital at the topping out ceremony - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The redevelopment of a former hospital as a community hub has been given a boost thanks to a £75,000 investment from a charity. 

The former Southwold and District Hospital is set to reopen as a housing and community hub and the developers, community group SouthGen, have received the money from Big Issue Invest, the investment arm of The Big Issue, which supports social enterprises. 

The hospital in Field Stile Road, which closed in 2015, is being transformed into a series of affordable homes, including nine flats, along with a cafe and a home for the town’s library. 

SouthGen was created to prevent the hospital from being demolished and turned into second homes and the community group has partnered with Hastoe Housing Association to redevelop the site. 

Mick Walker, treasurer for SouthGen, said: “This redevelopment is a project incredibly close to our hearts. We are so pleased to have had the support of Big Issue Invest (BII), who have helped us get closer to making our project a reality. 

“The BII investment has been essential in providing bridging finance for the capital works and initial revenue funding prior to SouthGen securing further revenue support – applications for which are currently in process.” 

Southwold Hospital closed down back in 2015 and is being redeveloped as a community hub

Southwold Hospital closed down back in 2015 and is being redeveloped as a community hub - Credit: Nick Butcher

Redevelopment on the building began in July 2019 and the work aimed to preserve as much of the Victorian building as possible, including the chimneys. 

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Danyal Sattar, chief executive of BII, said: “We are so pleased to be able to support an organisation such as SouthGen. Coastal communities today face a particular set of challenges.   

“The work SouthGen does in offering shared community spaces is vital. I look forward to watching the organisation go from strength to strength.” 

SouthGen’s 477 members will each own a share in the community hub after fundraising around £500,000 for the scheme, with the project also attracting around £1 million in grants.