"It's a sad day for Sunderland" - Residents upset as NHS Trust wins appeal to demolish Monkwearmouth hospital
A group of residents say they have been ‘let down’ after an appeal by the NHS for the demolition of Monkwearmouth Hospital was approved.
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust lodged the appeal in February this year to demolish and rebuild Monkwearmouth Hospital, on Newcastle Road, after councillors voted against the advice of their own planning officers and refused the scheme last November.
Sunderland City Council planning officers had recommended plans which included demolishing the main hospital building and two blocks adjacent to Elizabeth Street to make way for new ‘fit-for-purpose’ facilities.
But residents living near the hospital raised fears about the loss of heritage, impacts on privacy and noise and traffic.
Resident Joanne Roulstone, who has been campaigning against the demolition, said: “This is a very sad day for local residents, local democracy and the cultural heritage of the people of Sunderland.
"The residents closest to the hospital feel let down by CNTW as they appear to have ignored our concerns throughout the whole process. In going ahead with their appeal, they chose to go against the decision of the democratically elected councillors, therefore have ridden roughshod over local priorities.”
Monkwearmouth residents say they feel the decision is a ‘backward step’ as preservation and refurbishment would have seen a “significant contribution” to the reduction in carbon footprint.
Joanne added that residents feel “let down” by the Trust and claims promises with regard to times that work starts and finishes are “constantly broken”.
Among those against the demolition plans were Fulwell Ward Councillors Michael Hartnack and James Doyle.
Cllr Hartnack said: “This is an extremely sad day for local democracy when the Local Planning Committee, who know the area and the building well, refuse planning consent and then an independent Inspector determines that local councillors and the public are wrong.”
Cllr Hartnack added that the decision amounted to “the loss of another fine iconic building gifted to the people of Sunderland to be replaced by a modern concrete eyesore - shame on the planning process in Sunderland.”
Joanne added: “Currently the trust are undertaking some maintenance work at the Hospital, their communication about this has been shoddy and they have constantly broken many promises with regard to the times that they start and finish work.
"I sincerely hope their communications with regard to the forthcoming building work will improve, however, their track record does not give us much hope.”
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) said the current buildings – which were donated by shipbuilder and businessman Sir John Priestman in 1930 – are ‘not structurally sound’ and don’t provide ‘a suitable environment’ for therapeutic care or for staff wellbeing.
James Duncan, Chief Executive, said: "We have tried to balance the need to provide high quality health services for the population of Sunderland, with being a good neighbour to the people of the surrounding area.
"Our proposals will enable us to continue to provide locally based community mental health support for all ages on a site that is accessible and well known to the people of Sunderland.
"Most importantly, we need to ensure that our vital services, supporting people of all ages with their mental health needs, can continue to be delivered safely and effectively in the heart of the community in Sunderland.”