CONCERNS have been raised about the future of the former Chipping Sodbury cottage hospital after it was put up for sale by health chiefs.
The disused hospital – where Harry Potter creator JK Rowling was born – was put on the market by NHS South Gloucestershire after its most recent use as a day centre by the Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Trust came to an end.
Members of the Westerleigh-based Grace Church are negotiating to buy the premises and have already secured planning consent to use part of the site as a place of worship if they are successful with the purchase.
But retired GP Stephen Gregson, who used to work at the hospital in the days when it provided maternity services, is anxious about the rest of the Station Road plot.
He has even suggested it could be used as a museum to display local artefacts.
Mr Gregson, of Dodington Road, Chipping Sodbury, said the 1920s hospital had been built through public subscription and he has questioned whether such an arrangement meant the building had to remain in community use.
He said: "In 1948 it became part of the newly formed health service and since then has been used for a number of health-related services, most recently at a day centre and administrative offices for mental health services.
"When the West Gate health centre opened in Yate, the hospital closed completely and is now up for sale."
Mr Gregson said having a church on the site would allow community use but he was concerned that remaining land did not end up in the hands of developers.
The planning consent allows the extension of one of two buildings on the site, which falls within the parish of Yate. The single-storey premises had been used as a physiotherapy clinic and if the scheme goes ahead, will provide space for a congregation of 240.
Bob Gulliford, spokesman for the Grace Church, confirmed negotiations were continuing but was unable to make any further comment while they were underway.
David Hardill, of Yate Heritage Centre, said a memorial plaque that named the wartime fallen of Yate, Chipping Sodbury and surrounding villages had been an important feature of the hospital but that had been removed and taken to the heritage centre in Church Road.
He also said he did not think there was a current demand for another heritage-related building in the area.
A spokeswoman for NHS South Gloucestershire said: "The premises are no longer fit for purpose. Services were moved and the day centre closed about 18 months ago."
She said several parties had expressed interest in the site.