Southlands Hospital reaches a milestone

Southlands Hospital, with the Harness Block and peripheral buildings shown top right
Southlands Hospital, with the Harness Block and peripheral buildings shown top right

A MILESTONE has been reached in plans for the future of the Harness Block at Southlands Hospital in Shoreham.

Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust was at its board meeting today (Thursday) exploring the strategic outline case for the disposal of the Harness Block and peripheral buildings.

A key decision will be the exact areas to be retained by the trust and which to sell, with seven options being considered.

Paul Hatcher, director of facilities and estates, said: “It is very exciting. We have reached a milestone in the process.”

The board is asked to approve the disposal of surplus estate as defined under option seven, which considers the long-term future of the site and gives better options for the area retained for clinical services.

It means some of the car park will be kept, and a new entrance road could be created from Upper Shoreham Road in the north.

“The trust is taking a pragmatic and sensible approach to it,” said Mr Hatcher.

“The logic of that is we have got a piece of land and the site to retain, where we can do what we have always said we would do, with clinical options on the site. It gives us a frontage and gives the option for building something new at the front.

“It gives us a really good footprint and position to look at the access from the road, which starts to really open up the potential for the site.”

The main activities on the retained site will largely involve ophthalmology and although there are already detailed plans for a new unit, the trust is expected to look at the site again and consider whether to fund a whole new building at the northern end.

“We want to make whatever we do as positive as possible,” said Mr Hatcher, explaining that the recommended option gave them a chance for “collective thought” on the clinical strategy.

A clear timetable has been set out, which gives until the end of August for priority purchasers to put in bids to acquire the suprplus estate. Priority purchasers must have a health interest and public funding.

If no such purchasers come forward, or meet the requirements, the Harness Block site will go on the open market.

“I expect there will be a lot of interest,” said Mr Hatcher.

“In my personal view, if we can’t find a health interest, then housing will be the dominant thing.”