THE 10-year fight for a new healthcare unit in a Tyne Valley town is finally set to come to fruition.
Plans for a new integrated NHS beds and care flats scheme in Haltwhistle look certain to be given the seal of approval today.
It will mean the demolition of the famous and much-loved but crumbling War Memorial Hospital in the town centre.
Veteran Haltwhistle councillor Alan Sharp said: “It’s more important to realise that we are going to get a tremendous new facility.
“We have battled for this for the last 10 years and there have been so many stumbling blocks, but this time I believe the scheme is finally there.”
The new, £5.5m integrated health and social care unit built on the War Memorial Hospital site will feature 15 first-floor NHS beds and 12 ground-floor extra-care flats with 24-hour support for tenants. It will also restore services from the former Greenholme residential home, which closed in 2009.
Final plans to go before the county council planning committee in Morpeth tomorrow have drawn not a single objection from 16 statutory consultees and 168 public notifications.
Coun Sharp, who represents Haydon and Hadrian ward on Northumberland County Council, added: “The Town Council and the people of Haltwhistle are absolutely over the moon with the knowledge that we are going to get some flats as part of the scheme.
“There was a little bit of concern over what the conservation officer was going to come back with originally, but I think it’s fair to say we’ve worked hard with them and the Trust has worked hard to resolve the issues. As far as I’m concerned, I’m really pleased that everything is sorted and it looks to me as if it’s going to be a straightforward recommendation.”
The war memorial and gardens, which slope down from the 19th-Century hospital to the main street, will not be affected by the development.
The site stands within Haltwhistle Conservation Area and special consent had to be granted for the old hospital’s demolition. The new unit will feature a physiotherapy suite, treatment rooms, a quiet room, kitchen and dining facilities, an office suite and daytime activity areas for the elderly.
Planners who initially examined 14 potential sites for the new facility say the services in the ageing War Memorial Hospital “do not meet the requirements of contemporary health services”.
It was also first planned to have 35 flats in the new scheme but the figure was trimmed down during consultation.
While the intricately-designed War Memorial Hospital buildings are designated Heritage Assets, it is considered public benefits from the new development will outweigh their loss – a verdict supported by the county conservation officer.