The Old Hospital, Southwold, Suffolk

The Old Hospital, Southwold, Suffolk



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Number/street name:
The Old Hospital

Address line 2:
Field Stile Road


IP18 6LB

Modece Architects Ltd

Architect contact number:
01284 830085

Hastoe Housing Association, SouthGen.

Wellington Construction Ltd

Planning Authority:
East Suffolk Council

Planning Reference:

Date of Completion:

Schedule of Accommodation:
5 x 2 bed flats, 1 x 2 bed bungalow, 3 x 3 bed houses

Tenure Mix:
4 affordable and 5 shared ownership properties

Total number of homes:

Site size (hectares):

Net Density (homes per hectare):

Size of principal unit (sq m):

Smallest Unit (sq m):

Largest unit (sq m):

No of parking spaces:

Scheme PDF Download

Planning History

This project arose from a grassroots campaign to save Southwold Hospital from demolition and redevelopment as second homes. The site’s uses were decided by a community-led feasibility study which resulted in a partnership with Hastoe Housing Association to buy the site. Hastoe was able to make the site all affordable housing through grant funding from the Community Housing Fund and Homes England. With overwhelming support from the local community, the scheme’s aim has always been to retain the original Arts and Crafts façade. A community share offer raised nearly £.5 million which has helped to pay for high-quality detailing.

The Design Process

The design focus has been the retention of as much of the original Arts and Crafts building as possible, together with the reinstatement and restoration of elements of the building that had been less than sympathetically added to over the decades it had been a hospital.

The redesign of the main hospital building includes two of four first-floor flats, a crèche and a farm to fork café. Particular attention has been paid to the façade, roof design and the prominent chimneys. Aside from these main elements, consideration has also focused on windows, plain tiles, and the reinstatement of the original Flemish brickwork bond.

The design, removal and rebuilding of the rear 20th-century additions to the hospital site have required careful consideration to maximise new residential and community space whilst being sympatric to the original building. The redesign of these elements has provided a further two first-floor flats, the new Southwold library and business space. In addition, a modest three-bedroom house and fully DDA compliant bungalow have been included.

The removal of further 20th-century additions to the existing building has allowed the inclusion of a pair of stand-alone 3 bedroom semi-detached houses and a new-build flat over the entrance to the site

The key to achieving the density of development on the site, allowing as many affordable housing units as possible, has been a highly efficient special design. Parking and driveways are kept to a minimum. One of the flats is lifted-up and built over the access to the site whereas another has a roof form that is precisely designed to allow building up to the site boundary while still protecting the neighbouring rights to light. The result is a scheme in which the final product is highly unique, and one that is fully conceived from its context.

Choose a few key elements you want to promote

This is the first time a community has purchased a hospital back from the NHS to return it to local use. The project has inspired an amazing community spirit; volunteers have been involved from the initial bid to buy the site right through to fitting out the spaces. And community vision has helped shape the design in a brief for the scheme that is not only in keeping with the original hospital but also sympathetic to the local setting, which is a mix of Edwardian terrace houses and 1950s social housing.

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Scheme Information


  • Multi-Aspect Apartments
  • Semi-detached


  • Medium density
  • Compact


  • Affordable
  • Shared Ownership
  • Mixed Use


  • Community Consultation
  • Urban Regeneration


  • Brickwork
  • Traditional
  • Local Vernacular
  • Vernacular
  • Modern methods


  • Low Energy
  • Sustainable

Outdoor areas

  • Biodiversity
  • Garden

Surrounding Area

  • Communal Spaces
  • Community Buildings
  • Play Spaces


  • Community


Sustainability is the golden thread running through this project - from the choice of specialist architects, Modece, with their deep knowledge of procuring sustainable architecture as well as the contractor’s care during the construction phase right through to how the community will be using the building going forward. Saving the original building façade has reduced material usage. Where possible, materials demolished in other parts of the building were recycled. Lime-based mortar has been used on the original brickwork of the hospital building and the new brickwork adjacent. This has reduced the amount of cement, a less sustainable material, in these parts of the building. Air source heat pumps have been installed to provide hot water, heating and ventilation. A 12Kw PV array has been installed on the roof to supplement the electricity demand of the ASHPs and the community buildings. Excess power from the PV array will be sold back to the national grid to help reduce costs of the community tenants. The community also want to run their spaces in an environmental and socially conscious manner. The café, working space and nursery are community businesses, with profits reinvested in the community. To fit out the businesses, Southgen (the community group involved) has sourced good quality second-hand fixtures and fittings. The café will have a zero-waste policy, menus will be based on what is seasonally available and ingredients will be locally sourced to support environmentally sustainable food production. The nursery’s vision is Nurture in Nature. It uses the ‘Curiosity Approach’ which favours the use of natural materials over plastic toys. Swift boxes have been installed above the library. All of the soft landscaping, which will include espaliered heritage fruit trees, will support biodiversity. The café’s outdoor space is surrounded by growing boxes that will be used to produce ingredients for the café.