For decades, it was a place where lives were saved and babies born. Now the old Devonshire Road hospital is long gone – and was more recently in use as a car park – but is set for a new lease of life.
It is set to be the site of an as-yet unspecified new development after being bought for just over £1m by Preston-based Maple Grove Developments.
The firm – whose portfolio includes retail, office and housing developments – said it plans to submit a planning application for the site in the coming months.
Health bosses announced plans to close the former hospital, which opened in 1891, back in 2004, with services slowly moved out before it was decommissioned in 2007 and demolished.
The 3.7-acre site was cleared and used by Blackpool Council as a staff car park until its lease expired in 2016.
However the council came under fire for the fact that hardly anyone used the car park.T
he Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust confirmed it had sold the site to Maple Grove, part of the Eric Wright Group, in Bamber Bridge, for £1.05m.
Andrew Dewhurst, development director at Maple Grove, said: “The site is on a prominent junction and within close proximity to the Queen’s Park regeneration area,
which is currently being redeveloped to create 191 new homes.
“The Devonshire Road hospital was well known locally, and we are proud to be involved in bringing the site back into use and continuing the regeneration of this area of the town.
“With the site now under our ownership, we will look towards submitting a planning application in spring.”
The firm has not said what it hopes to build at the site but it is thought not to be looking at housing at the moment.
Suzanne Wood, property asset manager at Healthcare Support and Infrastructure Services, which is part of the NHS trust, said: “The disposal of the site will allow Lancashire Care to reinvest the capital in improving performance and patient experience.
“In Maple Grove we have found a highly-responsible and trusted developer with a strong track record in regenerating areas in communities, especially in Blackpool and we look forward to seeing the site transform.”
The old Devonshire Road hospital was founded in 1891.
Run by the local authority until it became part of the newly-created NHS in 1948, the site once specialised in infectious diseases.
However, shortly after the turn of this century, health bosses decided the hospital was no longer fit for purpose.
By this time, it was home to services including mental health, dermatology and physiotherapy.
In 2004 it was revealed the hospital would close – and was in line for demolition.
Speaking at the time, Mike Gallagher, director of facilities for Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “The original Devonshire Road Hospital was built in the 1890s and is no longer suitable for delivering health care in the 21st century.”
There was speculation the land could be used for a new purpose-built mental health unit – which would eventually be located in Marton. The Harbour opened in 2015.
The Devonshire Road hospital was decommissioned in 2007 and demolished.
It was then leased by Blackpool Council for use as a staff car park.
The deal was announced in 2013 to ease congestion and free up town centre car parks ahead of council staff moving into the offices on Talbot Road.
However, two years later, the council admitted it had made a mistake spending £190,000 on the 273-space car park – plus £35,000 a year in rent – after it was used
by just a handful of people each day.