Plans to transform the Heanor Memorial Hospital site into a modern health care facility are well underway after building started this week.
Work to create the new £3.5 million unit officially started on Monday, and will replace the former Ilkeston Road hospital.
The firm in charge of turning the derelict site into a community centre is A & S Enterprises, which was awarded the contract in September.
Peter West, spokesman for Derbyshire Community Health Services NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We are delighted to welcome our contractors A & S Enterprises, who started moving on-site on Monday as planned, to begin the job of building the new Heanor healthcare facilities.
“We look forward to working closely with them over the coming months.
“Thank you to all the local Heanor residents for their co-operation while this work is underway, and for their participation in the planning and preparation to get us to this stage.”
The memorial hospital has been closed to patients since September 2013, after asbestos was discovered in a boiler room during a routine inspection.
Formal approval to go ahead with the plan to demolish and replace it with the new care unit was given by the Southern Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) governing body in October 2014, after a three-month consultation period and numerous public meetings with health care officials, residents and service users. Some demolition work took place last September, and the contract was awarded two months ago.
The new centre will provide services that meet the health requirements of the population.
This building will include all existing services with the exception of inpatient beds, along with a range of new services which are required to support the health of local people – with a particular focus on mental health and dementia services.
Heanor West councillor Paul Jones, who has followed the progress closely since the first public meeting, said: “I think what is happening is a direct consequence of the pressure brought by the local community on the healthcare providers, about how valued a service the hospital did provide.
“It is testament to the willingness of them to listen to those concerns that the new build is taking place and will be up and running next year.
“I look forward to seeing the new facility rise from the ashes of the old hospital, and the commitment to retain the word ‘memorial‘ in any naming. I am also thrilled at the retention of some phlebotomy services in the old fire station.”
The total project cost has increased from an estimated £2.5 million to £3.5 million, which includes building costs as well as other associated costs of kitting out, furnishing and moving services in.
Jonathan Leese, marketing manager for A & S Enterprises, said: “We have a wealth of experience in healthcare projects and we are keen to use local companies on our projects. Our contracts manager lives just three miles away, so this is very much a local project for us.”
A turf cutting ceremony will take place on-site on December 1.