Plans lodged for new base for air ambulance

The region's air ambulance charity has submitted plans for its new operational base and Medical Centre of Excellence, which it claims will lead to more lives being saved across the north.

Monday, 9th January 2017, 2:01 pm
Updated Monday, 9th January 2017, 2:07 pm
Plans have been lodged for an new base for the Great North Air Ambulance.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) hopes to build the facility at Urlay Nook, near Stockton-on-Tees, on the former Elementis chromium works site.

GNAAS has agreed a deal in principle for the site but the sale is dependent on a number of factors including the success of the planning application.

The entire project is forecast to cost £3.9 million. This is being financed through a combination of fundraising, reserves, additional borrowing, and a £1 million grant from the Government through the LIBOR banking fine fund previously announced by Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Chief executive Graeme Pickering said: “I cannot stress enough how vital this is for the future of the charity and for the future of pre-hospital care in the region.”

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The plans will incorporate an existing office building, which would house the Medical Centre of Excellence alongside the charity’s operational and support staff including fundraising, lottery and admin teams.

The 1,500sqm hangar also featured in the plans include space for three aircraft as well as dormitories and parking for the charity’s 24-7 trauma car service.

“The renovation and repurposing of the existing facilities could potentially start in the new year,” Mr Pickering said. “But the construction of the hangar could be delayed slightly to preserve the financial stability of the charity.

“If the application is successful, we will be asking supporters to give whatever they can to support the project. The benefits to the charity and the wider public are many. Fundamentally though, it will save the charity tens of thousands of pounds which can be spent on frontline healthcare, it gives us a stable home for the first time, and through the Medical Centre of Excellence, we will have the facility to research clinical innovations that will save even more lives.”

Mr Pickering said the GNAAS board of trustees had given the green light to the project, having scrutinised the plans alongside the financial proposals. An environmental survey has been carried out, taking into consideration the site’s former use as a chemical works, and found there to be no risk to workers or visitors to the site.

If the proposals go ahead, the charity would leave its base at Durham Tees Valley Airport, as well as offices in Darlington town centre. Its bases at Newcastle International Airport and Langwathby, near Penrith, continue to be integral to its future plans.

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