A CRUCIAL piece of Tredegar's renowned healthcare history is set to be retained as part of plans for a multi-million pound health and wellbeing centre to serve thousands of patients.

A proposal for the new centre - which could be ready as early as December 2021 - includes a section of the old Tredegar General Hospital, which closed almost a decade ago.

Increasingly dilapidated, and a magnet for anti-social behaviour, the hospital site on Park Row, opened in 1904, has faced an uncertain future since it closed in 2010.

But its vital role as part of the free-at-the-point-of-delivery healthcare system developed in the town through the Tredegar Workmen's Medical Aid Society - Aneurin Bevan's blueprint for the National Health Service - has been recognised during the early stages of the planning process for the new centre.

Tredegar residents had the chance yesterday at an exhibition at the town's Bedwellty House, to view the early plans for the centre. They reveal how a key part of the old hospital - the part containing the original entrance - will be incorporated.

South Wales Argus:

HERITAGE: The section of the old Tredegar Hospital that is set to be incorporated into the new health and wellbeing centre

"We have looked at a number of ways of creating a new centre, including retaining the old hospital facade and building behind it, but this design retains this part of the hospital as the heart of the development," said Andrew Street, architect and studio director with design firm IBI Group, which is working on the health and wellbeing centre project.

He added that the old hospital entrance area is developed as a patients' waiting area for the new centre, and there is scope for the interior design to include elements of the building's history.

"The hospital is not a listed building and it is about heritage by association, the important role it played, rather than architectural merit," said Mr Street.

South Wales Argus:

EARLY DAYS: Tredegar Hospital from the rear, shortly after its completion in 1904. Photo courtesy of Tredegar History and Archive Society/Tredegar Museum

Rhian Lees, associate with RPS, which is providing planning consultancy support for the project, said the idea of retaining the heart of the old hospital as part of an otherwise new building topped a list of options for the design of the new centre, which will be in a conservation area in Tredegar that includes the close by and Grade Two-listed Saron Independent Chapel.

"A lot of work has been done on the design for the centre, because we have to make sure that what we put back on the site is sensitive to the area and its history," she said.

As well as GPs and other healthcare professionals, and dental services, the

Tredegar health and wellbeing centre

is earmarked to include a community pharmacist, midwifery, health visiting and school nursing services, a Flying Start base, wellbeing support services, and social support such as Citizens Advice and debt advice.

"It will be a sort of one-stop shop for health and wellbeing," said Ms Lees.

An application for outline planning permission will be submitted to Blaenau Gwent county borough council during the summer, and it is hoped that a decision on that will be made before the end of the year.

The centre, which is set to be split-level, with one storey on the Park Row side, and two towards the rear due to the sloping ground, will cost upwards of £10 million.

It is hoped that building work can begin in summer 2020, with the centre ready to open by late 2021.