Decision due on plans to demolish and rebuild Sunderland's historic Monkwearmouth Hospital
Plans to demolish and rebuild Monkwearmouth Hospital are set to go before city councillors for decision next week.
Sunderland City Council planning officers have recommended plans for approval for the hospital building off Newcastle Road.
Currently operated by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, the hospital provides a range of clinical services for adults, those with learning disabilities and older people.
It is also home to the Sunderland Psychological Wellbeing Service, a city-wide team that provides access to assessment and treatment for people with mental health issues.
New proposals for the site include demolishing the main hospital building and two blocks adjacent to Elizabeth Street to make way for a new ‘fit-for-purpose’ clinical office development.
This includes cellular offices, flexible workspace and breakout areas together with an ancillary café that will be open to staff and the public and a replacement 46-space car park.
A new external ‘landscape piazza’ is also proposed to replace the existing parking area fronting onto Newcastle Road and to create a new ’front door’ to the rest of the hospital.
The planning application for the hospital is set to be discussed by the council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee on Monday, November 29.
According to a report prepared for councillors, the proposals represent the “consolidation of existing clinical and administrative service on site.”
The existing hospital is around 90 years old and has been subject to refurbishment throughout its life.
However, the buildings earmarked for demolition are now considered “functionally and economically obsolete.”
In the committee report, council planners list the benefits of the proposed scheme including increased jobs during construction and wider investment into new fit-for-purpose hospital facilities.
The plans from applicant Monkwearmouth Developments Ltd also aim to “consolidate the hospital’s role within the local economy as an anchor institution and major employer by providing modern workspace facilities that will encourage staff retention and high calibre new staff.”
During consultation on the proposals, 14 letters of objection from 10 surrounding residential properties were submitted to the council.
Concerns ranged from the loss of a historical local interest building and green space, to noise pollution, nature conservation, car parking and highway safety.
Objections have also been received from Fulwell ward councillors James Doyle and Michael Hartnack.
In a shared letter to the local planning authority, the councillors raised concerns about the pre-application consultation, noise, privacy issues, traffic impacts and more.
A report prepared for councillors next week acknowledges the “local significance” of the old hospital buildings which are considered to be part of the city’s heritage.
In their conclusions, council planners said that, on balance, the benefits of the overall plans outweigh any harm resulting from the demolition.
A planning report added it would be possible to consider retaining commemorative stones and plaques to incorporate into the design of the new hospital and/or within the landscape design.
The final decision on the plans rest with councillors on the Planning and Highways (East) Committee, who will discuss the application on November 29.
The meeting starts at 5.30pm in Sunderland Civic Centre’s council chamber and is open to the public.
For more information on the proposals for Monkwearmouth Hospital, visit Sunderland City Council’s online planning portal and search reference: 21/02069/PSI
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