DARTMOUTH TOWN COUNCIL TO ACQUIRE FORMER COTTAGE HOSPITAL SITE FROM NHS TRUST
INNOVATIVE LEASE BACK DEAL STRUCK WITH LOCAL HOTEL DEVELOPER TO BENEFIT DARTMOUTH RESIDENTS
1st August 2022
Dartmouth Town Council is pleased to announce that it has agreed Heads of Terms to purchase the former Cottage Hospital site from the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust (TSDFT).
A working group was formed under the leadership of Councillor Ged Yardy to explore how Dartmouth could benefit. They worked with TSDFT who supported the council in their desire for Dartmouth to receive social value from the sale.
Local people were asked for their views on the social benefit they thought most important and as a key part of this a joint TSDFT/DTC survey was promoted. The responses indicated a preference for affordable housing for Dartmothians in need, particularly young families and key workers.
Central Government, Devon County Council, South Hams District Council and many other organisations were approached by the DTC working group, all stated they were unable to help financially.
The DTC working group also approached many social housing providers to ascertain if they would be interested in purchasing the site for affordable housing. None considered it viable due to the limited size, location and high site value.
An innovative solution was required if Dartmouth was to achieve the best social value from the sale. The working group decided to explore the possibility of a commercial partnership between DTC and a developer to fund the acquisition and development of the site.
After a competitive process the best proposal came from two local developers with extensive national and international experience in large hospitality projects who are prepared to put their own money into a project which benefits Dartmouth in multiple ways.
Through an innovative lease back scheme, the developer of the site has funded the Town Council’s purchase of the site’s freehold in exchange for a long lease. As part of this agreement the developer has agreed to provide social value to Dartmouth in the form of a substantial contribution to be used for social purposes. Ongoing income from the ground rent of the site and this revenue will be ringfenced to be used for social benefit.
The development plans for a 35-40 room 5* Boutique hotel, will preserve the façade of the old Cottage hospital. Plans also include a signature restaurant and bar as well as a spa, all of which will be open to the public and attract more footfall into the town center. This new addition to Dartmouth’s hospitality offering will provide at least 30 new jobs, many of which will also come with staff accommodation. It is estimated that, once up and running, the new waterside hotel would generate £1-1.5 million in additional trade annually, based on recent tourism studies.
Simultaneously, but separately to the negotiations with the developer and with TSDFT, the Town Council has entered into an agreement with a local charity experienced in providing social housing. DTC will transfer ALL funds and future income it receives from the developer less directly incurred costs to the charity. The charity agrees to use these funds to provide affordable housing in Dartmouth and hardship grants to Dartmothians in need in accordance with the charity’s governing rules.
In announcing the exciting plans for the hospital site Cllr Ged Yardy of DTC said “It is a huge relief that the Town Council can now go public with details of the proposed development and the exciting vision for its future. In addition to providing employment opportunities for local people this fantastic project will attract more visitors and therefore more business to Dartmouth. We have also been able to ensure that the wishes of the town will be respected and that the site will fund affordable accommodation for the local community which is much needed.”
Sir Richard Ibbotson, Chairman for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We recognise that the former hospital is dear to local people’s hearts and occupies a prime waterfront site. We wanted to make sure that local people benefit from any development of the site and we are delighted that we have been able to support Dartmouth Town Council to purchase the site.”
Liz Davenport, Chief Executive for Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust said: “We would like to thank Dartmouth Town Council and in particular Councillor Ged Yardy, for their dedication and commitment to working with us. We would also like to thank the people of Dartmouth and surrounding areas for sharing their views with us throughout this process and of course we are, as always, very grateful to Healthwatch for helping us to hear the views of local people.”
Anthony Mangnall MP said “I welcome the news that Dartmouth Town Council has reached an agreement with the local NHS over the future of the former community hospital site. While we would have preferred it to remain a hospital, I am pleased that Dartmouth will soon have a brand-new Health and Wellbeing Centre.
It is absolutely right that the community will now be able to benefit from the site being a local business, with the income helping to provide more local, affordable housing for those who live and work in the area. This new arrangement will benefit the residents of Dartmouth by creating jobs and opportunities as well as by encouraging further investment into this historic town”.
For further information on plans for the former cottage hospital site please contact the Town Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org