Dartmouth residents are being invited to voice what they’d like to see replace the town’s former hospital, via a detailed survey.
Affordable homes for key workers and local young people; accessible offices for Dart Harbour and Navigation Authority; a first aid post; and a community creche are among the ideas residents can vote for in the survey, designed and collated by Healthwatch. There’s also space to add individual ideas.
Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and Dartmouth Town Council are currently working together on a community bid for the former Dartmouth Hospital site, including uses specifically to benefit residents in and around the town.
Adrien Cooper, Interim Director of Environment for Torbay and South Devon, said: “We recognise that the former hospital is dear to local people’s hearts and occupies a prime waterfront site. It closed almost five years ago, after a full consultation, and the time has now come to sell it.
“As we’re a public sector organisation, there are some rules around how we do that, and we have to make sure we get a fair price for the site. But that doesn’t mean we have to sell to the highest bidder. Our preference is that local people benefit from any development. That’s why we’re supporting Dartmouth Town Council to explore whether a community bid for the site is possible. We’re putting everything we can into this and want to see the power of partnership working come good here.”
Dartmouth Town Councillor Ged Yardy is part of a working group set up by the town council – including councillors and other community members of the community – to put together the bid.
He said: “It’s a huge ask for the community to come together and create an economically viable bid for this site over the coming months. It’s bigger than anything we have had to fund before and timescales are tight.
“But we’re exploring every funding avenue open to us, in a bid to deliver facilities that local people want for our town. Of course, there will need to be some commercial elements of any development to help pay for community facilities, and with support from the NHS Trust we are working on a development brief that we believe would give us both economic and social benefits.”
The Healthwatch survey states that a community bid is the NHS Trust’s preferred option for any sale - because it gives local people a real say in how the site should be developed in future.
The NHS Trust said it needs the funds from the sale by the end of March 2023, to pay its build costs for the new Health and Wellbeing Centre. If a community bid proves impossible, the site will be advertised for sale on the open market in the second half of 2022. In that case, the NHS Trust and Town Council would share their development brief with interested parties, but would not be able to influence any future development on the site.
The resident survey is now live and runs until December 8. It can be accessed online at https://surveymonkey.co.uk/r/DartmouthHospital
Printed copies are also being distributed to local venues for collection and return is via Freepost to Healthwatch. Places where printed copies are available include: Post Offices in Kingswear, Townstal (BP garage) and Dittisham;
Blackawton Community Shop; Stoke Fleming Village Hall; Townstal Spar; Dartmouth Town Council offices; Dartmouth Medical Practice; and Dartmouth Clinic
After the closing date, Healthwatch will collate all responses into an independent report to share with the Council and the Trust in early 2022.