Outside an industrial estate in Gorleston there is a field overgrown with weeds. 

For some passing motorists, the site is probably unremarkable - but for others it is a source of frustration. 

In August 2013, those seven acres off Sidegate Road were bought by East Coast Hospice.

The charity planned to build a ten-bed hospice on the land. The proposed facility even had a name: Margaret Chadd House.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: An artistic impression of Margaret Chadd House.An artistic impression of Margaret Chadd House. (Image: East Coast Hospice)

Ten years later, however, the field is still empty - and the fate of the hospice is as unclear as ever.

Last March, the charity merged with Ipswich-based St Elizabeth Hospice, a move that was hailed as a "step forward" for palliative care services in the region. 

But at the time there was no mention of Margaret Chadd House

Gorleston man Malcolm Metcalf, 89, was one of those people who poured his heart and soul into raising funds for East Coast Hospice (ECH). 

In 2014 he travelled across the USA and two years later completed a bus ride around the UK - raising £20,000 for the charity. 

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Malcolm Metcalf with East Coast Hospice community fundraiser Jeff Wood in 2014. Malcolm Metcalf with East Coast Hospice community fundraiser Jeff Wood in 2014. (Image: East Coast Hospice)

But on Monday (September 25), he said: "It seems they will never build on the ground in Gorleston. 

"I'm bitterly disappointed. I’m not very happy about it. Hundreds of people sponsored me and raised £20,000 for that hospice."

He said that when people donated money, they did not know that ECH was going to merge with St Elizabeth Hospice.

"People keep asking me, 'What’s happened all that money?' The field is full of weeds and nothing has been done for ages. 

"It’s not what the people want," he said. 

A spokesperson for St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice said the charity is conducting a feasability study into how they can "effectively use existing assets to develop end-of-life care in the area".

The study is scheduled to be completed by March next year.

The spokesperson added: "We recognise fundraising for sustainable hospice care in this area is a deep commitment from volunteers and supporters, and we have huge respect for all the East Coast Hospice supporters who have done so much already to build the funds raised to date for Great Yarmouth and Waveney.

"Our shared goal now is to make sure these funds are put to the maximum benefit for high quality sustainable hospice care into the future for the people of Great Yarmouth and Waveney. Collectively, we need to ensure that any proposed ways forward are affordable and sustainable."

According to the charity, the work of East Coast Hospice has provided a strong foundation for the now united St Elizabeth East Coast Hospice.

"We believe this collaboration is the best opportunity to join forces towards a single vision for the area and one which will achieve the ambition, shared by both hospices and the community, of delivering an enhanced end-of-life and palliative care model for Great Yarmouth and Waveney," the spokesperson added.

Great Yarmouth Mercury: Conservative councillor Penny Carpenter

Another person who is passionate about the plans for the hospice is Penny Carpenter, a borough councillor in Great Yarmouth.

She said: "If [the charity's] intention is to build a hospice, that’s fine. But if the intention is not to put anything there, what’s going on with the land?"

She said that people in the area currently have no choice regarding end-of-life care. 

"You either end up lying in a hospital ward, among living patients, or you die at home.

"I’ve always thought that dragging families through a hospital to see loved ones at the end of their life is not appropriate. A loud hospital ward is not the right place.

"Hospices manage it so so well but it's something that's sadly lacking here.

"I would just like an answer – are they going to build it or not?"

READ MORE: 'We need your help' plea as charity's supporters lose faith

ECH was formed in 2007 and said its new palliative care centre would be open by November 2020 following a multi-million pound fundraising drive.

No bricks have been laid yet at the charity's Sidegate Road site and ECH admitted taking a financial hit due to the Covid pandemic.

In 2021, this paper reported the charity's accounts revealed it made a loss of £74,500 in the year 2019-2020 taking in the first month of the pandemic.