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'No alternative' to H Block demolition say hospital bosses
HOSPITAL bosses have sought to reassure residents that they have explored alternatives to demolishing the historic H Block at Christchurch Hospital.
The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Trust has released details of two independent reports which looked into different options for the former workhouse infirmary.
Revised plans have been submitted by the trust after councillors at Christchurch turned down previous plans to redevelop the site at Fairmile.
The plans, which the trust says would retain services including blood and the Macmillan Unit, include the demolition of H Block, a GP surgery as well as an 80-bed care home, 36 senior living apartments and 78 key worker housing flats.
However, the demolition of H Block has sparked concerns from local historians and organisations who want to see the building preserved.
Historian Sue Newman said she was unhappy with the prospect of a private care home on the green in front of the existing building.
But in the reports published by the trust, a quantity surveyor viability report carried out in January this year concluded that the internal width of Nightingale ward makes it unsuitable for reuse and the footprint limits any remodelling.
It said that if H Block were kept and used for existing departments, new build extensions would be required.
The works could cost up to £4.8million, making the site unaffordable for the trust and also impacting on parking provision and key worker housing, income the trust needs to carry out the development work.
English Heritage also turned down an application to recommend the unused H Block for listing, citing a lack of architectural interest, lack of historic interest and the previous unsympathetic alterations.
Richard Renaut, director of service development, said: “I want to assure those who have any concerns about H block that it has been assessed appropriately.
“While English Heritage notes the local interest, H block falls short of the high level of architectural interest necessary to merit national designation as a listed building.
“It is also clear from the surveyor’s report that a considerable amount of money would be needed to bring the building up to any kind of standard, but would still be unfit for delivering healthcare without considerable investment.
“This is simply not affordable.”