Holywell Hospital: cost of replacement mental health facility rises to £94.5k

The cost of the proposed new Birch Hill Centre for Mental Health in Antrim has risen by £6.5m in three months, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust board has been told.
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A 134-bed development at Bush Road is being planned by the Trust to replace the existing Holywell Hospital in the town.

Trust board members heard a recent meeting construction costs have increased due to inflation from £88m in September 2023 to £94.5m in December.

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A planning application has been submitted to Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council for the new mental health facility which will also replace the Ross Thomson Unit, an 18-bed acute admission ward at Causeway Hospital, Coleraine.

Artist’s impression of the new Birch Hill hospital. Pic: Northern Health and Social Care TrustArtist’s impression of the new Birch Hill hospital. Pic: Northern Health and Social Care Trust
Artist’s impression of the new Birch Hill hospital. Pic: Northern Health and Social Care Trust

The proposed development will comprise treatment wards, staff and visitor facilities, management and operational spaces, health and well-being facilities,external landscaping and gardens, car parking and servicing facilities.

A design and access statement says: “The design features four patient twin wards consisting of a total of 134 patient bedrooms, associated living/dining areas, and staff facilities. A key requirement of the project brief was to maximise views out of patient bedrooms to open countryside, landscape and nature.”

Board Trust members were told at last month’s meeting of the importance of as many stakeholders as possible viewing “mock-up bedrooms”.

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A report to members said: “It is key to the success of the design that as many Trust clinicians, support service managers, estate leads and as many other key stakeholders as possible see the rooms and get the opportunity to comment on the design, furniture and specialist equipment.”

Trust board members were also told “evidence of a medieval road previously discovered on the neighbouring Bush Manor residential site was uncovered” during an archaeological survey. The report also states that “further site investigations are required”.

Meanwhile, no decision has been taken yet on the future of the Holywell Hospital premises which accommodates up to 400 staff members. It is a listed building which the Trust has a responsibility to maintain.

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Holywell Hospital was built in 1898 to accommodate 1,000 patients with three ‘Tobernaveen’ wards opening in the 1950s. Holywell Hospital has approximately 116 acute in-patient beds.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter