£60 m Bexhill facility’s natural hillside setting

Robin Graham, an architect at Gilling Dod Architects, who oversees many of the practice’s flagship mental health projects, reports on its design of a new 54-bedded adult and older adult inpatient facility currently under construction for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in an undulating hillside setting near Bexhill in East Sussex. ‘True co-production’ has, he explains, had a key role.

Construction is progressing in earnest on the new £60 m Combe Valley Hospital in Bexhill. Nestled into a hillside on the edge of Combe Valley Countryside Park, this natural setting will support the hospital in providing the highest quality therapeutic environment for its patients across East Sussex and beyond.

As part of the national 'eradicating dormitories' programme, Combe Valley is the innovative new mental health hospital for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, designed by Gilling Dod Architects. The build, by Kier, is making good progress, and when complete, the new hospital building will provide 54 en-suite bedrooms across three adult inpatient mental health wards — with two for working age adults, and one for older adults. In addition, the building will provide shared therapy spaces, a visiting suite, a village green garden, a neuromodulation suite, and education spaces.

Combe Valley will replace the Trust's existing Department of Psychiatry currently located at Eastbourne District General Hospital. That building was adapted from a former acute hospital building, with wards across two floors. External spaces are limited, with courtyard gardens shared at ground level. The wards wrap around central courtyards, with external car parking spaces merely a footpath distance away from windows. Patients stay in dormitory accommodation, and have limited access to outdoor space. There are poor lines of sight, and poor levels of natural light, within the building.

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