The Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, UK, has long been a source of criticism for designers and users as its historic design has struggled to stay relevant in the face of modern technology and advances in architectural design. Recent plans for a £400m redevelopment of the site by the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals Trust are attempting to transform the ‘inadequate’ facility into a major trauma centre for Sussex and the South East.
Built in 1828 by Houses of Parliament architect Sir Charles Barry, the site boasts a Grade II listed chapel designed by William Hallett in 1856 and several ‘important Victorian additions’, including the Adelaide and Victoria wings and the Jubilee building. Modernisation plans – which include the virtual demolition of the listed chapel – have been blasted by The Victorian Society, who are ‘urging the NHS Trust to take a more sustainable and imaginative approach to redevelopment and retain and adapt the historic buildings’.
“The priority for the NHS must always be delivering high quality healthcare, but this need not be at odds with respecting and conserving historic buildings”, said Heloise Brown, Conservation Adviser for the Victorian Society. She continued: “Many historic hospital buildings are not suitable for listing as they have been altered extensively over the years, but that doesn't mean they are not important. The Royal Sussex has an interesting history as an early proponent of sea bathing and water treatment cures, and its buildings form a Brighton landmark that should be retained.”