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STATE OF THE ART: What councillors said in approving eye hospital plans

STATE OF THE ART: What councillors said in approving eye hospital plans

Artist impression of proposed new eye hospital at Riverside Sunderland

Councillors responsible for unanimously approving a new state-of-the art Eye Hospital in Sunderland praised the development, after seeking reassurances around parking and wildlife issues.

Earlier this week proposals were approved for a new £36m Eye Hospital to replace the existing Sunderland Eye Infirmary facilities on Queen Alexandra Road, which are now over 75 years old.

The approval came after the plans for the former Vaux Brewery site went before Sunderland City Council’s Planning and Highways (East) Committee on Monday evening.

Councillors unanimously backed the proposals, after hearing officer feedback over potential worries over issues such as parking and wildlife provision.

Cllr Michael Dixon raised concerns just 90 parking spaces were being provided, down from the 120 available at the existing Queen Alexandra Road site.

He said: “The problem at the moment with the current site is that you’ve got about 30 cars every day, maybe more, maybe less, parking in the nearby streets.

“I can see there being massive parking problems, I just don’t think there’s enough spaces.

“I just think you need as many car parking spaces as you possibly can.”

However council officers stressed the applicant has undertaken a survey to measure what is needed and they deem its satisfactory in terms of level of parking provision to serve the needs of the development.

They added there will “certainly be enough” parking to accommodate patients.

Officers also noted the hospital will be in a city centre location, and there are plans in the city to reduce car usage and push towards more sustainable forms of travel, with increased cycle parking provision at the new site.

Cllr James Doyle said: “We musn’t lose site of the objective that we have both in terms of planning policy but also as a council to reduce reliance on car usage and promote more sustainable forms of transport.”

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

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

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

“I still think it will be an enormous benefit to the city.”

Committee chair Cllr Michael Butler added 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 expected to open its doors in 2024.


Words: Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter

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