Parking and nature conservation among questions raised when deciding on new plans for £ 36million eye hospital in Sunderland

Proposals have been approved for the new £ 36million eye hospital to replace existing facilities at Sunderland Eye Infirmary on Queen Alexandra Road, which are now over 75 years old.

The approval came after plans for the former Vaux brewery site were submitted to the Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (East) committee on Monday evening.

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A CGI of what the new eye hospital might look like.

Councilors unanimously supported the proposals, after hearing officers’ comments on potential concerns about issues such as parking and provision of wildlife.

Councilor Michael Dixon expressed concern that only 90 parking spaces were provided, compared to 120 available at the existing Queen Alexandra Road site.

He said: “The problem right now with the current site is that you have about 30 cars a day, maybe more, maybe less, parked in the surrounding streets.

“I can see there are huge parking issues, I just think there aren’t enough spaces.

“I just think you need as many parking spaces as possible.”

However, council officials pointed out that the applicant had undertaken a survey to measure what was needed and found it to be satisfactory in terms of the level of parking supply to meet development needs.

They added that there would be “certainly enough” parking spaces to accommodate patients.

Officers also noted that the hospital will be located in the city center and that there are plans in the city to reduce car use and move towards more sustainable forms of travel, with an increase in the cost of commuting. parking for bicycles on the new site.

Cllr James Doyle said: “We must not lose sight of the objective we have both in terms of planning policy but also as advice to reduce dependence on car use and promote more sustainable modes of transport. “

Cllr Dixon added that he had also been contacted by the Durham Bird Club around the site offering nesting opportunities for swifts, which are “very important to a lot of people”.

Council officials responded that this will be taken into account as part of the larger Vaux development site.

Cllr Lyall Reed said, “Any concerns I have are certainly outweighed by the benefits that will come from state-of-the-art eye nursing.

“I still think it will be a huge advantage for the city. “

The chairman of the committee, Cllr Michael Butler, added that he “only hopes that this hospital will have the same success” as the previous site.

Work is expected to begin on the facility in spring 2022 with the new eye hospital scheduled to open in 2024.

Ken Bremner MBE, Managing Director of South Tyneside and the Sunderland NHS Foundation, said after the meeting: “We are delighted to see our ambition to create a world-class eye hospital in Sunderland take this important step. This is great news for our Sunderland Eye Infirmary team and for the many patients who access our specialist eye services across the region.

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