As work gears up for the imminent opening of the new South Bristol Community Hospital Ben Bennett, programme director from NHS Bristol and the team, took time out to open the doors to the local community.

“We still have a lot of work to do for the opening but we felt it was important as the local people have been so much a part of the story. I think it’s a thank you really.”

Knowing that this is to be a community hospital meant putting that community at the heart of the design process. The Bristol Physical Access Chain – which deals with physical access for disabled people in the Bristol area, the Whitchurch Assisting Development committee and the Hartcliffe and Withywood Community Partnership were among those consulted on the design, style and feel of the building.

Lorraine Horgan has been one of those committee members since 2004. “We have been involved in the entire process, looking at the size of the rooms, looking at various hospitals and the colour schemes that have been used, and it has exceeded all our expectations to see it come from the paper to the actual building. As a resident I could not ask for any more than we have here.”

David Perkin, director at AWW said “We wanted to get away from a hospital feel and create more of a home-from-home atmosphere. We worked with different colours and materials to deinstitutionalise the colour scheme. Light and views are very important and the day rooms on each floor are really fantastic. They’re designed to make people want to get out of their rooms.”

South Bristol is among the most deprived wards in the country, but with the redevelopment of HengroveParknew life has been poured into this area. The area is supported by the Bristol Skills Academy and the new Leisure centre and with the opening of the Urgent Care Centre at the end of the month it is now truly a hub of the community.

Dennis Street of Hartcliffe said, “Sometimes you don’t believe dreams come true, but this one has.” The former councillor has been campaigning for the hospital to be built since 1960 and has been to Parliment with several petitions over the years. “This is something the people of the area deserve.”