Decision due on Bexhill state-of-the-art mental health campus

Proposals to create a state-of-the-art mental health campus in Bexhill are set to go before Rother planners next week.

On Thursday (July 21), Rother District Council’s planning committee is due to consider an NHS application to build a 54-bed inpatient mental health facility on land off of Mount View Street.

The land, which is currently owned by the council itself, forms part of a ‘strategic development site’ set aside for housing and employment land. While such a facility would not meet these criteria, the scheme is still recommended for approval by council planning officers.

In a report to be considered by the committee, a council planning officer said: “Whilst the proposed development does not accord with these expectations set for this location, there would be significant social benefit in providing high quality accommodation to provide specialistic mental health care set in extensive landscaped grounds.

Aerial illustration of proposed NHS mental health campus in Bexhill

“Therefore, on balance, the proposal is considered acceptable subject to the recommended planning conditions and [legal] obligations to safeguard the amenities of the area and that the requisite associated infrastructure is delivered.”

The application comes in a hybrid form, seeking full planning permission for construction of the first phase of the facility and in-principle (outline) permission for later expansion. While not part of the application at this stage, more land adjoining the site is also earmarked for long term development as part of the same facility.

The application marks Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust’s plans to replace the Department of Psychiatry at Eastbourne DGH with a more modern facility.

This forms part of a national push to move away from providing mental health beds in dormitories — a practice the government wants to phase out by March 2024. While the Department of Psychiatry is the largest inpatient facility in East Sussex, its facilities are also dormitory-based.

On top of that, the facility is leased from East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust – the body responsible for both the DGH and Conquest Hospital – and Sussex Partnership, the trust responsible for mental health services, has been asked to vacate the premises by 2026.

If approved, as is recommended by planning officers, the scheme would be expected to be built out by March 2024, at a cost of around £46m.

For further information see application reference RR/2022/1246/P on the Rother District Council website.