Fire-damaged former Sunderland college building set for demolition

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A fire-damaged former college building is set to be demolished this month over fears it could collapse.

On July 28, firefighters battled a blaze at the Thornbeck College building in the Carley Hill area of Sunderland – with the fire leaving the first floor and roof severely damaged.

The building had previously been the Carley Hill site of the old Thornhill Park School before becoming a college.

This month, the site owners, North East Autism Society, applied to bulldoze the buildings in the interests of public safety.

An application to Sunderland City Council reads: “Although we have put additional barriers, steel plating to doors and G4S security in place, neighbours have reported seeing ‘youths’ in the building last weekend.

“With the danger of the building collapsing, we’re urgently requiring commencement of demolition.”

Fire damage includes the stairwell being completely destroyed and stairwell walls described as”unstable”, “bulging” and “cracking”, the report adds.

Following the planned demolition, the charity has no plans to rebuild and hopes to sell-off the land in future.

If approved, works are expected to start on Monday, September 17 and take two weeks to complete.

The applicant has also agreed to put additional fencing in place to secure the site if needed.

North East Autism Society operates several services in Sunderland including family support, child care, adult care and child education.

The fire-hit Carley Hill site has been with the charity for more than 30 years with previous uses ranging from an adult day services hub to a residential children’s home.

After a brief run as a college between 2008 and 2011, the centre closed when services relocated to Newton Aycliffe.

Northumbria Police are treating the incident as an arson and previously launched an appeal for witnesses to come forward.

A police spokesman confirmed that no arrests have been made with enquiries ongoing.

Anyone with information should contact Northumbria Police on the non-emergency 101 line quoting reference 898 280718 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800555111.

Chris Binding , Local Democracy Reporting Service