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Community hub dream one step closer for former hospital site after £150,000 funding grant

PUBLISHED: 13:27 08 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:27 08 December 2018

SouthGen have been awarded a £150,000 grant to redevelop Southwold Hospital. NICK BUTCHER.

SouthGen have been awarded a £150,000 grant to redevelop Southwold Hospital. NICK BUTCHER.

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A “unique and landmark” battle to redevelop a former hospital site has reached another milestone after being awarded a £150,000 grant.

A community party was held to celebrate SouthGen's acquisition of the former Southwold Hospital. SOUTHGEN.A community party was held to celebrate SouthGen's acquisition of the former Southwold Hospital. SOUTHGEN.

SouthGen, the Southwold and Waveney Valley Regeneration Society, are now more than halfway to their £850,000 goal needed to redevelop Southwold Hospital into an eagerly anticipated community hub for Southwold, Reydon and the surrounding area.

New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership awarded the latest grant through their Growing Places Fund used to kickstart and support development projects across Norfolk and Suffolk.

Doug Field, chair of the New Anglia LEP, said: “This is a truly unique project, both in its partnership approach and in the range of benefits it will bring to people in the Southwold and Waveney area.

“It is also a great example of a community coming together to spot a gap in housing and services provision and find a solution.

Southwold Hospital. NICK BUTCHER.Southwold Hospital. NICK BUTCHER.

“We believe it represents excellent value for a Growing Places Fund investment.”

In December 2017, their proposal was approved by Waveney District Council and the site was bought back from the NHS in March earlier this year, with the aim of creating affordable housing, a new home for Southwold Library, a nursery for working parents, a farm-to-fork cafe and a co-working hub.

The site was bought through a partnership between Hastoe Housing Association, who will be responsible for creating the affordable homes, and SouthGen.

Jessica Jeans, chair of SouthGen, said: “There were no templates for this pioneering project. Everyone was challenged to think outside the box to solve the financial, legal and development issues flowing from this innovative social experiment and the New Anglia LEP recognised this.”

As it stands, the group hope to start construction in February 2019, with the community hub set to open in the summer of 2020.

Charlotte Brown, the business planning lead on SouthGen’s Management Committee, said: “One of our charitable objectives is to provide affordable premises for start-up companies and also for community facilities.

“We will be able to keep rents low by obtaining grants to build the site and, as a charity, we will receive an 80pc reduction in rates, which we will be passing onto our tenants.”

The latest boost comes after the group secured £206,000 from Big Lottery funded charity Power to Change in October.

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