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General Lying-In Hospital to be sold by NHS

The former General Lying-In Hospital in York Road is to be sold off by the health service just four years after a £4.27 million refurbishment.

General Lying-in Hospital
For sale: General Lying-In Hospital and nurses' accommodation (left)

The former hospital building opposite County Hall is currently used by Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Tust as a training facility and offices.

With a rich history dating back nearly two and a half centuries, the GLI – founded by Dr John Leake – first opened in 1767 on Westminster Bridge Road and moved to the York Road building in 1828.

At least 150,000 babies were born at the hospital and it is said that Florence Nightingale took a personal interest in the associated midwifery training school.

The hospital moved to St Albans during World War II and the building sustained some damage. It re-opened in 1946 as part of St Thomas' Hospital.

The GLI closed in 1971 and fell into dereliction. In later years it appeared on English Heritage's Buildings at Risk register. It was restored and refurbished in 2003 at a cost of 4.27 million including a grant from the Guy's and St Thomas' Charity.

"The trust has a duty to make the most efficient and effective use of NHS resources," explains Steve McGuire, director of capital, estates and facilities.

"Using our estate and buildings efficiently and disposing of assets that are no longer needed, or which would be costly to reconfigure, is a key aspect of this."

"We are proud to have played our part in the restoration of the previously derelict General Lying-In Hospital in a way that has benefited the local area and preserved the building's impressive architecture.

"Whilst we would have no control over the potential use to which a prospective purchaser might put the building, its Grade II listing means that any developer would be required to retain the existing external features, including external walls, windows and pillars, which make the building so attractive."

The trust says that a recent review of properties concluded that it could dispose of a small number of "under-used" buildings which contain services that would be better located on the main hospital sites.

The trust placed three sites which it owns – including the former General Lying-In Hospital and adjacent former nurses' accommodation – on the market during the last three months of 2006 and is now considering proposals from potential purchasers. The board of directors will consider these before making a final decision on any sale.

"Local people will be sad that the hospital is up for sale," says Vauxhall MP Kate Hoey.

"It is particularly surprising given that just a year ago the trust's chief executive said that it was impossible to find any space for families of sick children at the Evelina Hospital [a Ronald McDonald House is proposed for the site of the Holy Trinity Centre in nearby Lambeth Road]. This was clearly wrong."

"I believe that the hospital should be looking to the long term rather than short-term gain."

The agents' description of the buildings said: "The sale offers an exciting opportunity to acquire two attractive freehold properties with refurbishment, redevelopment and/or alternative use potential in a desirable area of London."

It adds: "Both properties may be suitable for a range of uses including office, hotel, institutional and residential subject to planning."

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