BRIDGWATER'S former hospital could return to public use as a health and social care training centre, the district council has said.

Sedgemoor District Council says it is “working with the current private owner and a range of local partners to prepare a bid for up to £20 million of government support under the Levelling-Up Fund”.

Partners include the NHS, Somerset County Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, Bridgwater Town Council, Bridgwater & Taunton College, the University of the West of England, and the Somerset Association of Care Providers. 

If the bid is successful, work could start on remodelling the old hospital as early as spring 2023 (subject to planning approval). 

The hospital was sold by NHS Property Services for £1.6 million to a hotel developer in 2017 after it was deemed surplus to requirements.

Residents are invited to share their views on the plans to return the Grade II-listed building to public use by filling in a short consultation survey on the district council's website.

Further consultation work will take place later this year. 

Bridgwater Mercury: The former healthcare centre was replaced with the £33 million Bridgwater Community Hospital in 2014.The former healthcare centre was replaced with the £33 million Bridgwater Community Hospital in 2014.

A district council spokesperson said: “The ambition for the site is to create a wholly integrated skills development and learning academy to attract, retain, grow, and upskill our key workers in the care sector.”

Another objective is to “address local health and care inequalities through a more professionally trained sector, which also helps create more capacity in primary care with more people being supported at home”.

The 200-year-old former hospital has been empty since it was replaced with the £33 million Bridgwater Community Hospital, located in Bower Lane, in 2014

It is located on Salmon Parade - part of the planned Celebration Mile project - and overlooks the River Parrett. 

The council says the scheme will ‘save a listed building in a highly visible and prominent location next to the river’ and add value to Bridgwater's £23.2 million Town Deal Investment programme. 

It also expects the initiative to drive footfall to the town centre and create new jobs.

The council also said the scheme has “potential for key worker housing to be included”.

Residents can make their views heard by completing the district council's Old Bridgwater Hospital consultation survey.