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Chance for public to invest in innovative hospital redevelopment

PUBLISHED: 15:34 30 April 2019 | UPDATED: 15:37 30 April 2019

SouthGen is set to launch a community shares scheme that will allow people to own a part of the old Southwold Hospital. Picture: William Hancock

SouthGen is set to launch a community shares scheme that will allow people to own a part of the old Southwold Hospital. Picture: William Hancock

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A community benefit society wants the public to buy a slice of a town's old hospital as it is transformed into a groundbreaking new facility.

SouthGen partnered with Hastoe Housing Association to purchase the disused Southwold Hospital. Picture: Nick ButcherSouthGen partnered with Hastoe Housing Association to purchase the disused Southwold Hospital. Picture: Nick Butcher

Having partnered with Hastoe Housing Association to purchase the disused Southwold Hospital, SouthGen is set to launch the Waveney Valley's very first community share offer from Friday, May 10.

The scheme will allow members of the public to buy a minimum of six community shares at a cost of £25 each, making them a member of SouthGen and a shared owner of the hospital.

It will also take the group closer to its overall fundraising target of £725,000, a figure which must be matched to facilitate the creation of a community hub at the site.

SouthGen is two thirds of the way towards its goal and is looking to raise the final £250,000 through shares, which will be matched by Co-operatives UK up to £100,000

SouthGen is set to launch a community shares scheme that will allow people to own a part of the old Southwold Hospital. Picture: William HancockSouthGen is set to launch a community shares scheme that will allow people to own a part of the old Southwold Hospital. Picture: William Hancock

Jessica Jeans, chairman of SouthGen, said: “Anyone - no matter where they live, whether they are an individual, charity or a business - can buy community shares.

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“This is all about reclaiming the old hospital for the community. It was built by the community originally; now it's going back to the community.

“We can't believe the interest we've had. Within three of days of announcing we'd be opening a share offer we had 24 applications raising £14,000. If things continues like this, we'll do it!”

SouthGen must raise £725,000 to facilitate the creation of a community hub at the Southwold Hospital site. Picture: Nick ButcherSouthGen must raise £725,000 to facilitate the creation of a community hub at the Southwold Hospital site. Picture: Nick Butcher

The new community hub will provide a new home for Southwold Library, a nursery, a co-working space for local businesses, and a farm-to-fork café supporting local food production.

Thanks to funding from Hastoe, the site will accommodate nine affordable homes - four of which will be available for rent and five under shared ownership.

Ms Jeans added: “When we learned the NHS was closing the hospital and planned to sell it to a developer who would tear it down to build second homes, the community was absolutely determined it wasn't going to happen.

“The whole theory is that this is all affordable community space, whether it's for work, community facilities or housing.

SouthGen is set to launch a community shares scheme that will allow people to own a part of the old Southwold Hospital. Picture: William HancockSouthGen is set to launch a community shares scheme that will allow people to own a part of the old Southwold Hospital. Picture: William Hancock

“This just shows what people can do when they come together. If you believe where there's a will there's a way, communities can achieve great things.” SouthGen will host a launch celebration from 5pm at Southwold Rugby Club on Saturday, May 11.

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