When the young Charles Barry designed a hospital for Brighton back in the 1820s, he can have had little idea how long it would last.

Almost 200 years later, the Barry Building is still being used as part of the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Eastern Road, Brighton.

Barry went on to find fame and fortune. He designed the Houses of Parliament in London and was knighted.

The Barry Building is part of Brighton’s history but most experts agree it is not one of the great architect’s best works.

But such is the sensitivity over destroying Brighton’s heritage that no serious attempt to demolish it has ever been made – until now.

There has been surprisingly little objection to plans for bulldozing it and several other old buildings as part of major redevelopment at the site.

Some conservationists felt that the façade should be retained but this would be impractical. Most have been mollified by the proposal to rebuild the chapel, by far the best feature of the building, into the new development.

Even in Barry’s day, the hospital was too small for a growing seaside resort and there have been many other additions over the years.

The Jubilee Building, also to be demolished, was built in 1887 and lacks any architectural distinction. Further additions were made in the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1970, many of the main junctions at the hospital were moved into a new tower block. These included the accident and emergency department and maternity services.

Another major change occurred in 2007 when the Royal Alexandra Children’s Hospital was moved there from its old building in Dyke Road.

What we have now is an odd, awkward mixture of old and new. Many people entering the hospital do so through the Barry building. The walk to the new sections is surprisingly long and awkward.

Despite many improvements to the old buildings, nothing can disguise the fact that they are hopelessly outmoded and deeply depressing.

I have been a patient there myself and have visited many other people in the old wards. The care offered has usually been a minor miracle in the circumstances.

But staff and patients will be at one in supporting the new plans for a state-of-the-art hospital with 21st century buildings to match that care.

There has been talk over the years about moving the hospital to a greenfield site. In the 1970s, the favourite was land at Falmer which has since been used for the American Express Community Stadium, home of Brighton and Hove Albion.

In the following decade there was a campaign to build a new hospital in Hove off Holmes Avenue. This never came to fruition because of determined opposition within the NHS although a polyclinic, the Martlets Hospice and centres for psychiatric care were built there.

The medics and bureaucrats who favoured Falmer and hated Hove were driven largely by their cars. They wanted a site with easy access and safe parking.

This failed to take account of the fact that Brighton has a low rate of car ownership and busy narrow streets. It is far quicker and easier for most people without cars to reach Eastern Road than almost all sites out of town.

There will be an underground car park at the new development. But there will also be encouragement for people to cycle there.

The hospital is already served by some of the most frequent bus routes in the city and even in the middle of the night the service is better than that of some parts of Sussex during the day.

It should be possible to increase the numbers coming to the hospital by bus, foot and bike, possibly by offering staff incentives.

The new development represents an investment of almost half a billion pounds into the NHS in Brighton.

It will help maintain the hospital’s reputation as a major hub for children’s care and dealing with cancer while adding centres of excellence such as those dealing with head injuries.

Hundreds of jobs will be provided, both during construction and when the development has been completed. The appearance of the site will be improved considerably and walking around it made much easier.

The Argus is running the Give Us Our Hospital campaign, calling for permission to be given as soon as possible so that work can start quickly. The chances are it will succeed at a time when most other major projects have stalled.

There is now no case for considering another site and this scheme will conquer many of the long-standing problems.

It should be possible to meet the remaining objections, which are mainly transport based, to provide a superb new hospital as the pride of Brighton.

Admirers of Barry in Brighton will still be able to see his fine St Peter’s Church in the Valley Gardens. Just over the border in Hove, there is an even better example of his work in the charming St Andrew’s Church at Waterloo Street.

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