Burnt-out church set to become £2million care home

Property developer Mick Brett hopes to transform the former St. Nicholas Church site, in Front Steeet, Hetton, into a care home.

Property developer Mick Brett hopes to transform the former St. Nicholas Church site, in Front Steeet, Hetton, into a care home.

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A CENTURY-OLD church gutted in an arson attack could be torn down and a new multimillion-pound care facility built in its place.

Developers want to demolish the derelict Saint Nicholas’s Church, in Hetton, and replace it with a £2million 30-unit home for the “elderly and mentally infirm”.

Interior of  St. Nicholas Church, in Front Street, Hetton, that was destroyed by fire in 2006.

Interior of St. Nicholas Church, in Front Street, Hetton, that was destroyed by fire in 2006.

Twenty jobs could also be created.

The Front Street church was gutted in an arson attack in November 2006, with fire crews tackling the blaze ordering nearby pubs and homes to be evacuated.

But now, Brett Bros Developments Ltd has entered an outline application to build the four-floor structure to Sunderland City Council.

The new site would use renewable energy sources such as biomass and solar panels, and house people who are unable to live alone or are suffering from dementia.

Director Mick Brett, who says he is passionate about transforming the ruin after buying the land in a deal last year, said today: “This could create 20 jobs for people and we really think it would add something to the village.

“Once we are able to demolish the church, we will build on the exact place where it stood.

“The garden at the back would be fantastic for the people living at the home, it’s beautiful.

“We’d like to keep some of the old parts of the church to put into the new build too if we can.”

The church was built in 1901 to replace an 1831 chapel which had served the mining community in Hetton.

It had been out of service for a number of years before the fire, although a developer had once mooted plans to convert it into a heritage centre.

Mr Brett, whose company recently converted a miners’ hall in Esh Winning, County Durham, into a care facility, added that should permission be approved, he and his team would hope to begin demolition work on the church within a year.

“I’m amazed someone has not been hurt walking around the ruins because it’s been in such a state since the fire,” he said.

“Once it’s demolished, we’d like to get started as soon as we can.

“There’s land to create a car park and we would really love to put a little swimming pool spa in, which is something we are looking at.”

A consultation over the plans ends later this month.

Plans for the new development can be seen in full on Sunderland City Council’s planning portal at www.sunderland.gov.uk.