Former Sunderland school could become apartments

Former Felstead School, Fordfield Road, Ford Estate, Sunderland
Former Felstead School, Fordfield Road, Ford Estate, Sunderland
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PLANS have been submitted to build 176 apartments to help the elderly live independently in their own homes.

Sunderland Council is said to have identified the needs for a further 1,350 extra-care flats in the city by 2016.

In response, Housing 21 and Wearside firm Frank Haslam Milan have set out a scheme to build a “retirement village” on the former Felstead School site, Ford Estate.

It has become overgrown since the special needs school closed, after provision was allocated to other schools on Wearside.

Extra care enables people to live in their own homes independently with access to tailored support and other social health and wellbeing opportunities.

Schemes developed in Sunderland offer rented, part-rent and part-buy, or outright sale options.

The Fordfield Road scheme, on council-owned land, is expected to run along similar lines.

The planning application is accompanied by an open-space assessment letter from Teesside-based SP&A Architects.

It stated: “This proposed use would help fulfil a defined accommodation need for elderly people of Sunderland, whilst providing a facility that is available and accessible to the community as a whole.”

It added: “The proposal ensures that there will be some gardens maintained on the site, preventing further building and potential overdevelopment of the site area and therefore helping protect the amenity of the neighbouring properties.”

As well as private apartments and group lounges and laundry facilities, the proposed development would have a main lounge, restaurant, wellbeing clinic, assisted bathing room, shop, hair salon and activity room.

SP&A said: “The public are actively encouraged to use these facilities, and experience indicates the scheme – with its facilities and services – will become the heart of the community.

“People with a range of needs, across all ages, will be able to take advantage of the benefits of this building and the development will enhance the social life of those living in and around the scheme.

“This is not only limited to the elderly,” it added. “A relationship with the local school is being formed to enable the residents to help with the school’s community garden.

“The school in return can perform for, and entertain the residents.

“The wider community is actively encouraged to use the restaurant and activity rooms to make these economically viable.”

Public consultation on the plans runs until March 31.