Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Plans Resurrected for Health Campus; Hospital Chiefs Believe Plan Will Benefit All

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Plans Resurrected for Health Campus; Hospital Chiefs Believe Plan Will Benefit All

Article excerpt

Byline: Amy Hunt

PLANS for a health campus which hospital chiefs say could bring investment and jobs to Tyneside are to be resurrected after previous proposals were turned down.

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Newcastle University want to create a groundbreaking Campus for Ageing and Vitality at the site of the current General Hospital, which they say would create 1,000 jobs.

But the proposals were thrown out by planners last year after 600 letters of objection were sent in to Newcastle City Council.

Many local people were concerned about a 24-hour Tesco store included in the proposed development, which planning officers also felt could have a negative effect on the community. Hospital and university bosses, along with Tesco, have now drawn up new plans which they hope will be approved. They want to put in a planning application in the next few weeks.

They say Newcastle should not miss the opportunity to cement its position as a world leader on ageing health and believe converting the General Hospital site, which will be left empty once services are transferred from the General to the RVI and Freeman as part of a shake-up, will improve health provision for the local community. Opponents of the plans say though the people of the city's West End do not object to the health campus, they do not want a Tesco and deserve better.

But project leaders maintain it is cash from Tesco which will allow the development to go ahead. When the plans were rejected last year it was rumoured Newcastle Hospitals stood to lose pounds 30m in investment from Tesco.

The campus would include a walk-in health centre and labs and offices for staff researching areas such as nutrition, conditions associated with age such as dementia and diabetes.

The Tesco store, which bosses say would be about 40% of the size of the supermarket at Kingston Park, would be equipped with older people-friendly features.

Health chiefs say the store would give them the opportunity to research the way people shop and the type of food they buy.

Professor Tom Kirkwood, director of the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University, said: "Our ageing population is probably the biggest issue confronting us and it's really high time we brought this development forward "We don't have an agenda with Tesco, but we're trying to work to improve the health of older people - one of the ways in which this can be done is through helping them make choices in what they buy. …

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