Former Ledbury Hospital to be developed for the community

A former cottage hospital in Ledbury, Herefordshire is to be given a new lease of life under the Hospital Sites Programme led by national regeneration agency, English Partnerships.

English Partnerships, Ledbury & Area Development Trust and Advantage West Midlands have entered into a collaborative agreement. This will fund a £1 million public-private sector redevelopment programme to enable the conversion of the former hospital building into a scheme of six affordable, shared equity apartments, together with managed workspace targeted at local, young entrepreneurs working in the creative industries. A development brief is currently being drawn up with the aim of offering Registered Social Landlords the opportunity to submit tenders to develop the scheme, in the late spring.

Paul Spooner, English Partnerships’ Regional Director for the North West and West Midlands, said, “English Partnerships has worked closely with our partners to ensure that the scheme not only brings the site back into active use but also that it makes a positive contribution to the local economy and community.

“In line with our Hospital Sites Programme, the scheme will tackle issues such as affordable housing in an innovative way, while preserving a building of local and historic interest.” Advantage West Midlands supported Ledbury through its Market Towns Initiative between 2002-2005. When the funding came to an end the people involved in the initiative decided they wanted to carry on the good work and the Ledbury & Area Development Trust was born. Advantage West Midlands is contributing nearly £200,000 towards the new commercial floorspace.

Nigel Hudson, Team Leader for Development, Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire at Advantage West Midlands said, “I am delighted that the excellent work of the market towns initiative is being carried on through the Ledbury & Area Development Trust and this extremely important project. “There is both a shortage of work space for small businesses and affordable housing in this area and I am pleased that this project addresses both of these issues whilst also bringing a historical building back into productive use.”

Roger A Payne, Chief Executive of the Ledbury & Area Development Trust, commented, “We are very pleased to be able to play our part in bringing this building back into use for the benefit of the community. In particular we are looking forward to supporting local start up businesses in the workspace, where we will also be based.

“We aim to create a ‘cluster’ of businesses focusing on creative industries such as IT, photography and web-based initiatives.”

Ledbury Cottage Hospital was funded by a local benefactor, Mr Michael Biddulph MP, to mark the coming of age of his eldest son, Mr John Michael Biddulph. It is situated in a conservation area close to the main High Street in Ledbury but has not been in use for four years.

It will be the first NHS site to be developed under English Partnerships’ Hospital Sites Programme in the West Midlands and the seventh nationally.

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