Decision date set for new £36million eye hospital in Sunderland

Multi-million pound plans for a new eye hospital on Wearside could be given the go-ahead next week.

Monday, 25th October 2021, 6:47 pm

Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee is set to discuss plans for the development on the former Vaux Brewery site.

Working in partnership with South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, the city council submitted proposals to its own planning department in July for a parcel of land at Riverside Sunderland.

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Artist impression of proposed new eye hospital at Riverside Sunderland

According to a report prepared for councillors, the new “state-of-the-art,purpose-built facility will provide enhanced treatment facilities for urgent eye problems and offers a more efficient and practical layout.”

It would also remain one of very few specialist standalone eye hospitals in the country and the region’s only dedicated specialist centre for ophthalmology care.

Subject to planning permission, work could start on site in 2022 with a view of opening the new eye hospital during 2024.

In a report prepared ahead of next week’s meeting, Sunderland City Council planners have recommended the new eye hospital for approval.

The planning report reads: “The site occupies a principal gateway location adjacent to significant designated heritage assets, including the Bishopwearmouth Conservation Area and adjacent listed buildings, and the listed Wear Bridges.

“It is considered that the planning submission has successfully demonstrated a scheme that is set to make a significant and positive contribution to townscape character and will become a significant development in the city.

“It is considered that the application proposal represents another key element of the continued re-development of Vaux.

“Significant weight therefore is being given to the regeneration of this prominent vacant, brownfield site.”

The report goes on to say: “It is also considered to be a sustainable and accessible location, easily accessed via public transport, car, foot and bicycle, and it is noted that the development will be built to modern energy efficiency standards incorporating emerging efficiency measures and low carbon technologies.

“There are not considered to be material considerations which outweigh these considerations so as to warrant a refusal.”

Plans include the erection of a new eye infirmary with energy centre buildings, a cycle hub building, parking, landscaping and ‘associated utilities infrastructure.’

The new eye hospital is also proposed to accommodate up to 312 members of staff.

Councillors on the Planning and Highways (East) Committee have the final say on the application and will meet to discuss it on Monday, November 1.

The meeting is open to the public and will take place in the council chamber at Sunderland Civic Centre from 5.30pm.

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