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Demolition paves way for new homes at Sunderland's Cherry Knowle hospital

Published date : 18 March 2011

Demolition work is now underway on derelict buildings at Sunderland's Cherry Knowle hospital, paving the way for hundreds of new homes.

The 43-week programme is being undertaken by North East demolition specialists Thompson's of Prudhoe on behalf of site owners the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), with work expected to complete on site around the end of the year.

"This is a major step forward for Cherry Knowle, paving the way for up to 770 new homes on the site," said John Calvert, investment and regeneration manager at the HCA. "It's a challenging project, but it can bring real benefits in the form of homes for sale and rent just three miles from the city centre, with easy access to the countryside."

The works will see Thompson's demolish the Laurels building, which has stood empty since the 1990s, along with other nearby and adjoining buildings.

Demolition will open up the first phase of development on the 47-hectare site, with a planning application anticipated later this year. Work on the new housing, which will include affordable homes as well as houses for sale, is expected to start before the end of 2012.

The scheme will also enable a new link road to be built between Ryhope and Doxford, providing an additional benefit for south Sunderland.

Nick Shilling of Thompson's said: "This is a complex scheme with a number of issues to manage, including safe removal of bats, which are a protected species. The partners have made a commitment to minimise any disruption to our neighbours as well as supporting a public liaison group for the community to raise any questions that may arise."

The scheme's partners plan to retain original architectural features such as foundation stones and doorways where this is possible, while the green belt land close to the buildings will be unaffected. Demolition traffic will be restricted to minimise any impact on road users and other local facilities at peak times of day.

Mental health and learning disability services at the adjacent Ryhope Hospital will be unaffected, with Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust currently working closely with Sunderland Council and other key partners on a £50m plan for new facilities at Ryhope Hospital and at nearby Monkwearmouth Hospital.

"The Laurels has been a landmark building and a vital part of the local community for over a century. It provided both employment and vital care for local people," said Jules Preston MBE, Chairman of Northumberland, Tyne & Wear NHS Foundation Trust. "However, it was built in Victorian times when mental health and disability services were very different from what they are today."

"The new hospital will be purpose-built, designed around the care and treatment needs of our service users. It will help to modernise essential mental health and disability services."

To find out more about the public liaison group or to ask any questions about the scheme, please contact Ian Drummond at Turner and Townsend Project Management on 0191 279 7200.


For more media information, contact Ben Landon, Communications Manager at the Homes and Communities Agency, on 0191 497 7685 or

Notes to editors

The Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) is the single, national housing and regeneration delivery agency for England.  Its vision is to create opportunity for people to live in homes they can afford in places they want to live, by enabling local authorities and communities to deliver the ambition they have for their own areas. 

Important note
Please contact Ben Landon on the number above if you would like to film or take photographs on site. Please be aware that Ryhope Hospital continues to be a working hospital and it is therefore important to ensure that footage or images do not show patients while they are in or around the hospital.

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