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London Chest Hospital site sold off by Bart’s NHS Trust to Circle Housing

PUBLISHED: 15:18 11 September 2015 | UPDATED: 11:09 14 September 2015

Now closed... London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green

Now closed... London Chest Hospital in Bethnal Green

Tom Ridge+Archant

The controversial London Chest Hospital site in east London has been sold off in a deal revealed just hours after a public meeting was held to discuss its future.

Campaigner Tom Ridge [inset] fighting to save London Chest HospitalCampaigner Tom Ridge [inset] fighting to save London Chest Hospital

The deal to buy the four-acre complex in Bethnal Green from Barts NHS Trust has been revealed to the East London Advertiser this-afternoon by Circle Housing, parent company to Old Ford housing association.

Campaigners staged a public meeting in the church next to the site last night to discuss the future of the former heart and chest hospital near Victoria Park, which closed after 160 years.

They were supporting local historian Tom Ridge who has been fighting to stop the red-brick Victorian complex in Approach Road being turned into luxury housing, to make sure it is used “for the public good” to help reduce Tower Hamlets’ long housing waiting list.

Tom applied for local listing, but claimed his request had been denied.

“The battle to save the hospital was lost in the 1990s when the-then Health Minister signed its death warrant,” he said.

“Yet the hospital still became a renowned ‘centre of excellence’ for cardiac treatment in 2006.

“Every brick was paid for by charitable donations for this distinctive and much-loved Victorian building—it was ours.”

Campaigners last night said the hospital was a “jewel in London’s healthcare system”.

But Barts NHS Trust wouldn’t reveal if it had been sold off or what the price was, nor who was bidding for it or even if it had already been sold, the meeting was told.

But the Advertiser learned today that it had been sold two weeks ago to Circle Housing.

Green Party campaigner Chris Thorne said: “We are fighting to keep the site in the heart of the community just like it has been for 160 years. It should be a space for working and education, not for corporate profit.

“The East End certainly doesn’t need another luxury development with a waiting list of 20,000.”

The historic four acres was sold on August 28 for an undisclosed sum. The new owners are to run a public consultation over the coming months before applying to Tower Hamlets council for planning permission in the New Year.

Circle Housing’s Philip Browne confirmed: “We have completed the purchase to deliver much-needed housing, which will build on the character of this unique site.”

The hospital was first opened in 1855 to treat tuberculosis after the freehold was acquired from the Crown by City businessmen “on condition the land should always be used for treating chest diseases.”

It had a nationwide reputation with heart-attack patients who were taken there within 24 hours being less likely to go on to have a full cardiac arrest, a study of 700 patients in east London found.

Its medical innovations included an international clinical trial in 2013 for treatment for high blood pressure without having to use drugs every day.

All research and heart treatment has now switched to St Bartholemew’s Hospital in the City.

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