Marchmont children’s hospital sold to property developers despite community backlash

NHS Lothian have agreed to the sale of Edinburgh’s Royal Hospital for Sick Children to the Liverpool-based property developers, the Downing Group.

Six bidders for the hospital on Sciennes Road gave information before the health board prior to the decision to award it to the Downing Group. In a press release, Ian Harrison, development and acquisition manager at Downing Group, said: “We’re pleased to confirm that we have reached a purchase agreement with NHS Lothian following a competitive process. The hospital is still in operation at the site and will remain in place until their move to the new hospital next year.”

The deal is believed to be in the region of £20m for the 1.62 hectare site in the Marchmont, Meadows and Bruntsfield conservation area.

Jane Ferguson, Director of Edinburgh and the Lothians’ Health Foundation also commented: “On behalf of the trustees of the Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, I am delighted that the process to sell the buildings that make up the Royal Hospital for Sick Children at Sciennes has reached its conclusion.”

“This step is an important one in the hospital’s relocation to Little France, Edinburgh, together with the Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

“The trustees have already committed over £2 million to the development and realisation of the Art and Therapeutic Design programme for the new building, helping to creating a home for the hospital every bit as iconic as the old ‘Sick Kids.’

“The proceeds of the sale of the trustee-owned buildings at Sciennes will be used to continue to support our vision of healthier, longer lives for the people of Lothian.”

The development of the new site at New France has been hit by delays and it is now expected that the new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences will not open until May 2018, later than previously expected.

The community group representing local residents, The Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust (MSDT) also bid for the site under the new urban community right to buy laws.

The MSDT had previously asked Scottish ministers to use this new law to give them preferential buying rights.

Affordable co-operative housing, healthcare and nursery facilities, space for social enterprises and a multi-purpose community hall were among the ideas for the hospital suggested by the MSDT.

A MSDT spokesperson, said: “We are gutted that we have not even had the chance for our application to be judged by the Scottish Government, which appears to be in the dark about this sale.”

“This application was considered by many as an ‘acid test’ for the new urban right to buy laws and we feel very disappointed, as will many people in the community around the Sick Kids, that we did not get the chance to show how it would work.”

“This is not the end of the road for MSDT and we will be in touch with our supporters in the coming weeks to gauge the appetite for engaging with the preferred bidder, and other ways we can transform our local area.”

 

Image: John McSporran 

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