Berwick's £25m new hospital plans have been given the official green light.

Demolition work is now set to begin and will take place while the rest of the hospital remains operational.

The infirmary was initially earmarked for the town's new leisure centre site until, following a local battle, residents in 2019 persuaded health and council chiefs to keep the hospital in its existing home.

On Tuesday, Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee formally approved Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s planning application to erect a two-storey hospital on the site of the existing Berwick Infirmary.

Originally built in 1874, the current infirmary is said to be "no longer suitable for the efficient delivery of modern-day healthcare".

The new purpose-built hospital will offer al the existing services, as well as a new endoscopy suite, and house GP practice Well Close Medical Group.

Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Having our planning application for our new hospital in Berwick approved is fantastic news for people in the town and surrounding areas.

“For too long, residents have needed a new hospital which is fit to deliver 21st century healthcare and equipped to embrace the latest technology to further improve the care they receive.

“This new hospital will give them just that, while fostering greater integration with primary care, and represents a major investment in north Northumberland.

“In these uncertain times, this is an extremely welcome development and demonstrates our commitment to further improving the wellbeing of our communities, while leading the way in the NHS.”

Work to demolish vacant parts of the current hospital can now start, to make way for the construction of the new development on the northern end of the site.

The trust says the working will create 295 jobs per year during the construction and operational phases, generating more than £17m for the local economy.

An image of the design for the new hospital

Executive director Marion Dickson, who is leading the Berwick redevelopment project for the trust, said: "This is a long-awaited decision for the local community and our staff and we’re delighted that we have now got the green light to progress to the next stage of this hugely significant development.

“While our staff at Berwick do an amazing job and provide the highest quality of care for our patients, they are constrained by the poor physical condition and functionality of the building which is, in parts, nearly 150 years old.

“Having a purpose-built hospital will make a massive difference to them and ensure an improved experience for our patients while providing enhanced privacy and dignity.

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“This is a unique opportunity to revolutionise the way we deliver care for generations to come and we are determined to move forward with pace while ensuring we continue to keep services running with as little disruption as possible while we build the hospital.

“I would like to thank our staff and the local community for their ongoing support over the years and we will keep everybody up-to-date during the exciting times ahead.”

Berwick's MP, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, welcomed the planning approval.

She said: “I am delighted that the new £25m hospital in Berwick has been formally given the go-ahead.

“Berwick needs and deserves state of the art facilities and it is great that these plans have been shaped by the local community. I look forward to seeing work begin on-site."

When the plans were initially submitted, in June, the trust said they aimed to see the work complete in the Spring of 2022.