HARTLEPOOL councillors have granted fresh planning permission for a new £300m hospital at Wynyard.
Members of Hartlepool Borough Council’s planning committee voted by 12 to three in favour of the development, despite funding not yet being in place.
But the committee refused to give the hospital trust permission it sought lasting for five years to secure the funding and a building contractor and only gave it three years in which to begin work.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust said it was common to ask for five years permission with schemes of the hospital’s size, but is happy with three.
The council originally granted outline planning permission for the new hospital in October 2009 but a series of setbacks, including the withdrawal of Government funding, meant it expired last October.
Some councillors raised concerns about the impact the hospital will have on traffic using the A689 in addition to other major developments in the pipeline for Wynyard comprising up to 2,200 new homes.
But they voted 12 to three for the development which is set to include a 568-bed hospital with an extra 66 day beds, 26 wards and 14 operating theatres.
Objecting to the permission Councillor Keith Fisher said: “We know there is a traffic problem and it will only get worse.
“There is no funding package and only one builder is prepared to build it.”
But Councillor Ray Martin-Wells said: “If this application was to be refused we would be effectively closing the door on any future hospital to remain within Hartlepool’s boundary and I for one think that would be disaster. I just hope it goes ahead sooner rather than later.”
Lynne Hodgson, the trust’s lead for the new hospital programme, said: “We are delighted that the council have supported the revised application for planning permission for the new hospital at Wynyard.
“The trust has worked jointly with the council to ensure the plans for the new hospital align with the overall plans for the Wynyard development.
“This is the next step in our journey towards the new hospital development.
“The trust is working closely with the Department of Health, Monitor the trust’s regulator and HM Treasury to get approval for the new hospital.
“The new hospital is the final piece of the momentum: pathways to healthcare jigsaw to transform healthcare in our area.
“There is no doubt that having a state of the art hospital in a central location supported by excellent community services will be the best way of meeting the future health needs to provide the best care for local people in the future.”
l One paragraph in a Mail story yesterday wrongly stated that the North Tees and Hartlepool and County Durham and Darlington hospital trusts were over budget last year.
But, as stated elsewhere in the story, both had budgets in surplus by around £2m.
l It’s your view:Page 8