Demolition of Sunderland hospital is under way

Anthony Richardson (left) of Thompson's of Prudhoe demolition specialists with John Calvert  HCA Investment & Regeneration manager on the Cherry Knowle Hospital site.
Anthony Richardson (left) of Thompson's of Prudhoe demolition specialists with John Calvert HCA Investment & Regeneration manager on the Cherry Knowle Hospital site.
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TIME has run out for a historic part of Sunderland’s Cherry Knowle Hospital.

Work to demolish The Laurels – empty since the 1990s – to make way for 770 new homes is now under way. Itis expected to take until the end of the year.

Demolition specialist Thompson’s of Prudhoe has been drafted in to undertake the 43-week programme on behalf of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), which owns the site.

John Calvert, investment and regeneration manager at the HCA, said: “This is a major step forward for Cherry Knowle, paving the way for up to 770 new homes on the site.

“It’s a challenging project, but it can bring real benefits in the form of homes for sale and rent just three miles from the city centre, with easy access to the countryside.”

The Laurels building will be demolished along with other nearby and adjoining buildings.

Views of Cherry Knowle Hospital, Ryhope,  that is about to be demolished to make way for residential properties

Views of Cherry Knowle Hospital, Ryhope, that is about to be demolished to make way for residential properties

Demolition will open up the first phase of development on the 47-hectare site, with a planning application expected later this year.

Work on the new housing, which will include affordable homes as well as houses for sale, is expected to start before the end of 2012.

The scheme will also see a new link road built between Ryhope and Doxford.

Nick Shilling of Thompson’s said: “This is a complex scheme with a number of issues to manage, including safe removal of bats, which are a protected species.

“The partners have made a commitment to minimise any disruption to our neighbours as well as supporting a public liaison group for the community to raise any questions that may arise.”

The development team said scheme will retain original architectural features such as foundation stones and doorways where possible, while the green-belt land close to the buildings will be unaffected.

Mental health and learning disability services at the adjacent Ryhope Hospital will be unaffected.

Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust, Sunderland City Council and other partners are working on a £50million plan for new facilities at Ryhope Hospital and Monkwearmouth Hospital.

Jules Preston MBE, chairman of Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Laurels has been a landmark building and a vital part of the local community for over a century.

“It provided both employment and vital care for local people. However, it was built in Victorian times when mental health and disability services were very different from what they are today.

“The new hospital will be purpose-built, designed around the care and treatment needs of our service users. It will help to modernise essential mental health and disability services.”

To find out more about the public liaison group or to ask any questions about the scheme, contact Ian Drummond at Turner and Townsend Project Management on 279 7200.