AROUND 20 campaigners gathered outside the former Blaina Community Hospital over plans to build social housing, yesterday.

The Save Blaina and District Hospital group were protesting against a proposal by United Welsh Housing Association to demolish the century-old building and build 20 bungalows for the elderly on Hospital Road.

Former resident, Julian Price, 46 who was born at the hospital said losing the building will rip the heart out of the community.

"Everyone in Nantyglo has got somebody in the family who was born there or raised funds toward the hospital, built by miners.

"It closed in 2010 but is the only old building left in the area and is a focal point of the community. "

"We want to see our heritage preserved, not obliterated and turned into a community centre," added Mr Price of Hughes Avenue, Ebbw Vale.

"If this building goes then Nantyglo is totally gone."

The Aneurin Bevan Health Board currently owns the building but United Welsh Housing Association has exchanged contracts subject to gaining planning permission from Blaenau Gwent council.

The developer has submitted an application for prior notification of its proposed demolition but cannot legally demolish the building until it gains planning permission.

A separate planning application to re-develop the site has been lodged with the council and will be considered on September 5.

At yesterday’s meeting of the planning committee Steve Smith, head of planning, said the plans are out for consultation and advised against the council imposing a preservation order on the building because Cadw has decided not to list it.

He said the architects must incorporate materials from the hospital building to reflect the historical associations with the site."