PLANS for an overhaul of mental health facilities at a Morpeth hospital, which are linked to planned changes at Prudhoe’s Ferndene hospital, have been given the go-ahead.

An application by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, relating to Northgate Hospital in Morpeth, was unanimously approved by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee.

Permission has been granted at Northgate for the demolition of some of the buildings and the development of a medium-secure inpatient unit with gardening and outdoor sports provision for patients, as well as outline permission for 134 new homes on surplus land.

The scheme is part of a major project, known as the CEDAR programme (Care Environment Development and Re-provision), by the mental health trust to upgrade its estate.

The housing is required to bridge the financial gap for the project and the full value of the land sale is to be reinvested at Northgate Hospital.

As well as the changes at Northgate Hospital, the scheme also involves the reconfiguration of the children and young peoples’ mental health and learning disability Ferndene Unit at Prudhoe, which will improve existing accommodation and establish medium-secure facilities for children and young people, and the reconfiguration and re-provision of mental health adult acute inpatient services for Newcastle and Gateshead at St Nicholas’ Hospital’s Bamburgh Unit in Gosforth.

The current estimate is that all of the required building works will cost £71.9m, to be funded by £52.4m from the Government, and the rest from the sale of the housing land at Northgate and the trust’s reserves.

The lion’s share will be spent at Northgate – £60.3m, with £8.4m earmarked for Ferndene and £3.2m for the Bamburgh Unit in Gosforth.

Tony Railton, from the CEDAR programme team, explained that all of the planning applications would go in separately, although as they were the same scheme they were linked.

“It’s a really important inward investment to the NHS in Northumberland,” he added.

Northgate’s staffing numbers are expected to rise from around 650 to 860, while there is to be an additional 100 nursing posts at Ferndene.

The Ferndene planning application is expected to follow in March.

The main work at Northgate is due to start in January next year and be completed by March 2023, while the work at Ferndene would start next February and be finished by October 2022.