Plans to demolish the old stone-built part of Grantham Hospital and replace it with a temporary car park are being prepared by United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, amidst strong opposition.
The Trust is putting together a planning application to demolish the building which dates back to 1874, arguing that it is ‘not fit for purpose’.
Facilities manager at the Trust Ian Hayden said: “The roof would need to come off and totally replaced because many of the tiles and felt has gone. It would need a total rewiring, a new fire alarm system, a new central heating system and work done on the cold water system. The building and the rooms don’t comply with modern standards of hospitals. And it is full of asbestos.”
Mr Hayden explained that the building has remained vacant since it stopped being used as offices about five years ago. If the demolition goes ahead, the site would be used initially as a car park.
“It would be a temporary car park,” added Mr Hayden, “With the view to be able to use the site for a future development following the Lincolnshire Health and Care review.”
However this has been questioned by county councillor Ray Wootten, who said: “I’m already concerned by the Trust’s deficit, so where would the money be coming from for this?”
Reacting to the demolition plans Coun Wootten said: “To do this is unacceptable, the hospital is part of our heritage.
“Grantham residents used to pay tuppence each or four old pence a couple for their health care and the upkeep of the hospital in the days before the NHS. There were also fund-raising parades for it through the streets. People are passionate about the hospital, and if it can be saved it should be. ”
Despite a previous application made by Coun Wootten to English Heritage, the building is not listed. An English Heritage spokesperson said: “We carefully considered an application to list the cottage hospital building on Manthorpe Road in Grantham in 2006 and the Minister for Culture, Media and Sport agreed with our advice that it did not merit listing at a national level.
“Despite its attractive façade, the building has been extended and extensively altered including the removal of original interior features, so it was considered that it did not have the special architectural or historic interest to warrant listing.”
Readers have reacted to the news on Facebook, with Laurie Turner writing: “Another piece of Grantham’s history going to be pulled down” and Cheryl Johnson commenting: “I’m really surprised there’s no listing on this building.”
Others have expressed support for the plans, including Stuart Sayer who said: “It should be demolished regardless of its past and the site used to further develop the hospital”, and Sally Fixter who added: “It’s not used anymore! Knock it down!”
Subject to planning permission, the facilities team hope that the demolition could take place by April next year.
Mr Hayden added: “I know that there is support for the building and people have fond memories, but I can only repeat that the building is not fit for purpose and to spend an enormous amount on repairing it is not the best use of the Trust’s money.”
Coun Wootten is also making plans and added: “I’m looking into raising a petition. I will give them time to reconsider at first, but if they don’t I will have to go down that road.”