£19m for former Bridgwater Hospital
The next round of Levelling Up bids has generally been a disappointment for Somerset. Only one bid was successful. That bid is an important one though. The old Bridgwater Hospital will have £19.7m of public money to spend. The plan is to create a wholly integrated skills development and learning academy. This will serve to attract, retain, grow, and upskill key workers in the care sector. Something that is vital to solving the crisis in the NHS. The hospital site sits within the division represented by Cllr Leigh Redman. He told The Leveller: “I was so pleased to be able to support this bid and even more excited to hear it has been successful. “A centre of excellence and training in the heart of our town has to be a good thing, better still the historic frontage will be saved and the area developed. “I think this is going to be the start of an Eastover reboot, joined with the Celebration mile works, the whole area of town will receive a valued boost. I look forward as to rolling my sleeves up and getting things off, from 1st April the project will fall to the new Somerset council so lets get things moving.”
Ian Liddell-Grainger, MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset also had endorsed the bid. He told us: “What a great day for Bridgwater. Hot on the heels of eleven business cases in £23m Bridgwater Town Deal being approved by Government. We are over the moon to hear that an additional £20million is coming into the town”
The bid was led by Sedgemoor District Council. Cllr Duncan McGinty, leader of the Council commented: “After the bad news over the last couple of days – the bus crash and the threat of flooding in the area – this is a fantastic shot in the arm for Sedgemoor and its partners.”
It will not be a straightforward project. The building has lain empty since it closed as a hospital in 2014. Inevitably it has decayed in the years it has been empty and the building is listed too. However this is a big win for the town as it comes on top of the £23.2m Town Deal money. This too is starting to bear fruit as the individual projects are approved and funded. In undertaking the hospital project it is hoped to enhance the vista of the river front as well as driving footfall into the town centre.