Important milestone for hospital hub revamp as external works completed
- Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown
A topping out ceremony has been held at the redevelopment of Southwold Hospital — with a special Adnams beer being poured to commemorate the completion.
Southwold brewer Adnams crafted a special beer that was poured over the former hospital to commemorate the completion of the building's external works on Thursday.
The hospital in Field Stile Road, which closed in 2015, is being rebuilt as a community hub including a café, library and nine flats.
The transformation is being undertaken by SouthGen, a community group formed to prevent the hospital from being demolished to make way for second homes.
SouthGen's 477 members will each own a share in the community hub after fundraising around £500,000 for the scheme, with the project also attracting £1million in grants.
In March 2018, SouthGen took control of the disused hospital after seeing its plans for the site approved by what is now East Suffolk Council the year before.
Redevelopment of the building began in July 2019 and replica chimneys based on the former hospital's design were placed on the structure at the end of February.
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After nearly two years of construction, the project, in conjunction with developers Hastoe Housing Association and Wellington Construction, is nearing completion.
SouthGen chairwoman Jessica Jeans was joined by town councillor Will Windell, county councillor Michael Ladd and Paul Pitcher of Wellington Construction as a special Adnams ‘Old Hospital Hop’ brew was poured over the building to mark it being watertight.
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SouthGen has said it hopes the new hub will be open in the autumn.
Mrs Jeans hailed the important milestone of the project and said SouthGen members were eager to get inside the revamped hospital when the internal works have been finished.
She said: "It feels wonderful to be at this stage — it feels like it's all coming together. It's a very special project.
"Progress was being made, but it wasn't visible for the longest time.
"Once the building is watertight, it will be very easy to fit it out.
"We're very grateful to Adnams for their support throughout the project and we hope that some of the people living in the flats when they are built will be Adnams employees."