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

Plans to create a state-of-the-art mental health campus in Bexhill have been granted planning permission.

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

While the land had previously been set aside for housing and employment land, the scheme was nevertheless recommended for approval by planning officers due to its ‘significant social benefit’.

This view was shared by committee members, who unanimously approved the scheme.

Aerial impression of proposed new mental health campus for East Sussex based in Bexhill

The application was approved in a hybrid form, with full planning permission for construction of the first phase of the facility and in-principle (outline) permission for a 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 NHS Foundation Trust’s (SPFT) 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.

The scheme would be expected to be built out by March 2024, at a cost of around £46m.

According to SPFT: “This 'campus'-style approach would enable us to develop a leading centre for mental health services which will mean we can respond as effectively as possible to the changing needs of local people and achieve outstanding outcomes for patients.

“This centre of excellence will also mean we can attract and keep the best staff and offer excellent teaching and research opportunities for our doctors, nurses and other clinicians.”

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