More than 2 years passed since the first visit of the RuralGrowth partnership in Medina del Campo (Spain) by the time we meet again in the emblematic place of the city in the Castel de la Mota in July 2019. It seemed that nothing changed since our first time: the same welcoming people, the special atmosphere of the castle providing both accommodation and meeting place for us. Though it was not completely true. Thanks to RuralGrowth a huge development project has been launched in the last year in Medina starting the renovation and redevelopment of one of their abandoned heritage buildings: the Simón Ruiz Hospital. Here is the story of the Hospital explained by David Muriel, the leader of the project:
“During the knowledge exchange meeting in Medina del Campo in 2017, we organized a site visit where also the abandoned hospital building was visited. This visit initiated lively discussion with the partners looking for possible solutions for the re-functioning of the building which was in bad condition at that time. From the advisory partner, the Newcastle University, Ian Merrell was especially interested in the future of the building, he sent us a scientific report including suggestions for the creation of a business hub in the Simón Ruiz Hospital. He also provided additional good practices of hub models in England and concrete examples of hubs in his region. Following it, we analysed these specific cases and the lessons learnt from additional project partners, such as the Italian model. According to this model, seminars and events are organized in a heritage building, similar to the Simón Ruiz Hospital, functioning nowadays as a tourist lodge until being in recovery phase.
The report by Ian Merrell, as well as the ideas come up during the project implementation encouraged local and regional politicians and other stakeholders of our region to believe in the project and bet on it.
The first plans and the outcome of the LSG meetings about this issue were discussed with the Regional Government and its department of Heritage called Foundation Santa María la Real. This Foundation drafted a “Director Plan” of the building and all the technical documents including also the actions of the Regional Action Plan which facilitated to obtain 500.000 € from regional ERDF to recover the building and start creating a regional Hub in Medina del Campo.”
Through promotion of business, events and reinvigoration of cultural heritage, Medina has succeeded on turning the tide of regional development.
In the summer of 2019 coming back to Medina for the phase 2 interregional meeting, the Hospital was visited again by the partnership where the first steps of the redevelopment were presented. It was unbelievable to see how a heritage building been closed for years opens their doors again to serve people particularly the ones who work in the region in rural visitor economy. The magic started with two people talking and visiting a closed old building during an Interreg Europe meeting, however the Municipality of Medina del Campo was the one who worked hard to go for it, get fund and start to implement what was learnt through interregional knowledge exchange.