Sunderland residents fight back against appeal to demolish Monkwearmouth Hospital after initial plan rejected
A group of concerned Sunderland residents are fighting an appeal lodged by an NHS Hospital Trust after councillors refused plans to demolish Monkwearmouth Hospital.
Residents are fighting an appeal lodged by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust to demolish and rebuild Monkwearmouth hospital on Newcastle Road.
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.
However, at a meeting of the council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee on Monday, November 29, councillors voted against the advice of their own planning officers and refused the scheme.
The decision was made against a backdrop of opposition from many living near the hospital, amid fears about the loss of heritage, impacts on privacy and noise and traffic.
Now, the Trust has appealed the decision and put forward a revised plan to the local authority.
Monkwearmouth residents have raised concerns over the demolition of the building which was donated by shipbuilder and businessman Sir John Priestman in 1930.
Resident Yvonne Gray, 67 said: "The building is iconic, it's a landmark for many people and almost everyone in Sunderland has some sort of memory or link to this hospital. This hospital took all the shipyard and mining accidents - it's a huge part of our heritage.
"It was donated by great Sunderland hero John Priestman and the architect who was responsible for the plans of the hospital, was also responsible for the Sunderland Empire too, so it's a huge part of our community.”
Yvonne, who is a retired headteacher from St Paul's Church of England Primary School in Ryhope added: "As well as the historic loss, it will also cause a lot of disruption for those living amongst it – we are trying to fight for this hospital but we are willing to have a conversation as we feel that the people this will affect haven't been consulted by the Trust.
"We feel there has been a lack of communication and there are ways of keeping some of the original architecture but this isn't even being considered. The demolition of this building will be a huge loss to Sunderland.”
Among those against the demolition plans are Fulwell Ward Councillors Michael Hartnack and James Doyle who attended the planning hearing to object to proposals.
Cllr Hartnack said: “Cllr Doyle and I were delighted that our efforts in objecting to the unnecessary demolition of such a loved building which is so suited to other architecture in the area was successful.
"We are disappointed however, that the Trust have now chosen to work in opposition to the public and city councillors by appealing the decision.”
Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) said the works would provide “fit-for-purpose” facilities.
James Duncan, Chief Executive at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, said: “In developing this proposal the Trust has always tried to balance the need to provide high quality health services for the wider population of Sunderland, with being a good neighbour to the people of the surrounding area.
“The current buildings are not structurally sound and don’t provide a suitable environment for therapeutic care or for staff wellbeing. 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.
"We will continue to work with our neighbours and involve them in our ongoing plans for the site. 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.”