THE future of the former Brighton General Hospital has been decided.

The NHS trust responsible for the Elm Grove site has opted to sell off much of it to private housing developers.

Health bosses say they need the money to build a new community health hub, housing all of the services currently offered on the site.

The Grade-II listed Arundel Building will be converted into homes.

There are also plans for a GP surgery, a pharmacy and an on-street entrance from Elm Grove.

Speaking at the board’s public meeting, the trust’s head of health planning Geoff Braterman said: “The services offered on this site are fragmented, and disabled access is very poor.

“The hospital site is no longer fit for purpose, and demand for housing in Brighton is very high, including affordable housing for NHS and social care staff.”

He said the money needed to improve the facilities would not be provided by central government.

At present, many of the buildings of the former Brighton General Hospital are boarded up or underused.

Only half the site is currently used by the NHS.

To make way for the new purpose-built health facility, the Sussex Rehabilitation Centre, used by amputees, will be demolished and rebuilt close by.

The ambulance station will also be moved.

Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust will need to by nearby land for the hub.

The decision was reached today by the trust’s board of directors.

They had sought the views on five options for the site from patients, staff, residents and community groups.

But Sean de Podesta of campaign group Sussex Defend the NHS said: “There are concerns about publicly owned property being sold off to private developers.

“Once it goes into private hands, it is gone forever.”

Siobhan Melia, chief executive of the trust, said: “This ambitious plan is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ensure that the local NHS and community services in particular can meet the changing needs of local people.

“I want to thank the many hundreds of patients, staff and members of the public that have been in touch with us to help shape this project.”

Green Party councillor for Hanover and Elm Grove Dick Page said: “The council’s deal with Hyde Housing means that it can afford market rate for the site.

“This must be an option, rather than a private developer, who wants to build posh lofts in the iconic poorhouse, buying it.”

The trust is now due to start its design work, before submitting its plans to health bosses and Brighton and Hove City Council for approval.

It is hoped that work on the new health hub will start by 2020 and the building would be in operation for patients by 2023.