Initial plans for the "one-in-a-lifetime" opportunity to build a new West Suffolk Hospital are being brought to the public.

The hospital was selected by the government as one of 40 to be built by 2030 - the biggest hospital building programme for a generation - and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has chosen Hardwick Manor as its preferred site.

Hardwick Manor is close to the existing hospital and is made up of 70 acres including a multi-million-pound manor house.

The trust has said it intends to keep the Hardwick Manor building and to incorporate it into its plans in connection with the new health services.

Yesterday, more than 100 people attended a pre-planning application public engagement event held at the Apex in Bury St Edmunds.

During this second period of consultation, ahead of an outline planning application being submitted, people could look at indicative illustrations and plans on how the Hardwick Manor site could be used for the new hospital and share their views.

People also got to see how feedback gathered at the first round of engagement has helped to influence and shape early outline proposals, for example in areas including traffic and parking, bus stops and environment.

Jacqui Grimwood, estate development manager for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, said: "We have had really good attendance which is great and it's been nice to talk to people face-to-face about our plans and their views."

She said they would incorporate feedback "where we can and where it's practical into our planning".

A new hospital is needed as many of the buildings have already exceeded their intended 30-year lifespan and are showing signs of wear and tear.

The trust said the buildings and the layout of the hospital have limitations "that do not allow us to deliver the 21st-century healthcare that we believe our patients and staff deserve".

The trust is intending to keep the current hospital site, which could be incorporated into plans for the new facility, for example for additional car parking.

The redundant hospital buildings are planned to be demolished, but there are a number of new additions to the site that could still be used.

An attendee of the event, 75, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was pleased to see the trust is looking to retain the whole site and is also focusing on the environmental impact and sustainability.

He added: "We like the idea of keeping the trees and making it as pleasant a place to be as possible. It is important. It helps people's wellbeing."

As part of this early design and development stage, the trust says it is intending to keep the arboretum and as many trees as possible.

On parking, which is another key area, the trust says it is planning to deliver it all on its site through accessible spaces on Hardwick Manor and a mixture of new provision and some existing parking on Hardwick Lane.

Highways access would still be from Hardwick Lane.

The trust also said it was important for a lot of the community that the hospital would not be quickly outgrown.

"We have taken that on board and we are submitting plans which will maximise the amount of space able to be developed and which can be adapted to meet new clinical ways of working and changes in future healthcare demand," the information said.

The trust aims to submit an outline planning application early in 2022.

The second phase of pre-application public planning engagement will run until Sunday, December 12.

The next face-to-face event is in Haverhill in the main hall of the Chalkstone Community Centre on November 23 from 2pm to 6pm.

There is also a virtual meeting on November 22 from 7pm to 8.30pm.

For more information visit the website.