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Frustration over delays to Minehead's Old Hospital sale
A GROUP determined to turn a disused hospital in Minehead into a community hub is frustrated by further delays to its sale.
NHS Somerset has informed West Somerset Council it intends to sell the Grade II listed building in The Avenue but has requested the authority reviews its decision to list it as an asset of community value.
The listing in December last year means it cannot be put on the open market for six months, to give any community group interested in buying it time to prepare a bid.
That six-month period has now been triggered after the NHS announced it intended to sell the building, which closed its doors as a hospital in 2011 and was replaced by the facility in Seaward Way.
Minehead Development Trust has been working towards buying the building and developing it into a cultural hub in the town centre with library, cafe and museum.
The trust has been in ‘constructive negotiations’ with the NHS about the building’s future.
Chair Jenny Lennon-Wood said: “Initially we were disappointed to think NHS Somerset would challenge the listing but as it is new legislation they have been advised to test it. We don’t think they are likely to succeed, though.
“We are confident that we are the right kind of organisation to fulfil the requirements of the legislation if we were able to run it as a community hub.
“We are still waiting for them to give us a valuation report, which will give us an understanding of how much they are hoping to sell it for. If we think it is unrealistic we will take advice and will challenge if it is too high.
"It has been really frustrating, but once we have the valuation we will go all out with the fundraising and put in a bid. We are going to do absolutely everything we can to make this happen.”
A spokesman for NHS Somerset said: “Managers with NHS Somerset are still proposing to meet with members of the community with a view to offering any co-operation with a business case which they might be preparing in support of their goal of acquiring the old building.
“It is customary that when an NHS property becomes surplus to requirements the service is obliged to market and sell the property applying normal commercial considerations and with the aim of securing a maximum price.
“This might appear at odds with a wider community interest but money derived from the sale of such property will return to the local NHS for investmentin local services and health facilities.”
The request to revoke the community asset listing will be considered by a review panel consisting of three members of the scrutiny panel and officers from West Somerset Council.