Property developers have struck a multi-million pound deal with health board bosses to buy a children’s hospital.
NHS Lothian to Liverpool-based property developers the Downing Group.
Six bidders were invited to provide further information before the health board and Edinburgh and the Lothians Health Foundation chose the winner of the deal believed to be in the region of £20m for the 1.62 hectares site in the Marchmont, Meadows and Bruntsfield conservation area.
However, the decision was met with fury by the community group - Marchmont and Sciennes Development Trust (MSDT) who said they were “gutted” that their application had been thrown out.
Residents living next to the site had wanted to purchase it under new urban ‘community right to buy’ laws and had asked Scottish ministers to use this regulation to give them first refusal to buy the site.
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. The reality of this decision is that only the bare legal minimum of the sorts of things local people suggested for this site - such as the affordable housing, more space for the local school and community facilities – is likely to happen now. “
The proposed move to the new location at Little France has been hit by delays, with the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People and Department of Clinical Neurosciences originally scheduled to open this autumn. That was put back to February next year and the project is now expected to be completed no earlier than May 2018.
Jacquie Campbell, Chief Officer for Acute Services, NHS Lothian said: “The decision to move the services from the current site and dispose of the site was not an easy one to make. The legacy of the Royal Hospital for Sick Kids dates back to 1863 and since 1895 the hospital at Sciennes Road has been home to thousands of children and their families in the building many have grown to call ‘the sick kids’.”
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.”