Work to start on £500m 'Health Innovation Neighbourhood' on former Newcastle General Hospital site

A groundbreaking ceremony marking the start of work on a £500 million project on the site of Newcastle's former General Hospital has taken place.

North East political figures were on site to kick off the 10-year-project to create a "Health Innovation Neighbourhood" (HIN), which will see the old hospital grounds transformed with research labs, NHS and other health-related facilities, and 1,250 new homes - 15% of which will be affordable. Demolition works on the former buildings are set to begin soon, ahead of an expected ten-year transformation for the West End site.

Last month, planning consent was granted by Newcastle City Council for HIN's masterplan, with funding recently awarded funding through the North East's devolution deal. Further developments include a hub which would support local community needs, including a café; digital learning spaces; areas for innovation, research, training and office use; two sustainable transport hubs; and green corridors centred around a large open space.

A mixed tenure residential space will comprise of inter-generational living, later living and supported living homes. It will also include specialist housing for those living with dementia, drawing on best practice from across the globe.

Led by Newcastle University, the vision for the scheme is to promote new ways of living that lengthen people's health spans, as well as life spans. Professor Jane Robinson, pro-vice-chancellor of engagement and place at Newcastle University, said that the ceremony was a "major milestone" for the HIN.

Groundbreaking ceremony ahead of the launch of the Newcastle Health Innovation Neighbourhood
Groundbreaking ceremony ahead of the launch of the Newcastle Health Innovation Neighbourhood -Credit:Handout - Newcastle University

She added: "This site builds on Newcastle University’s world-leading expertise in healthy ageing and will be the first of its kind in the UK, tackling major health and social challenges with the aim of identifying solutions that will benefit people here in the North East and worldwide. Improving healthy life expectancy is vital to creating a more inclusive economy and we are delighted to have the support of regional leaders in achieving this ambition."

Kim McGuinness, North East Mayor, said that affordable homes would bring back the General Hospital site that so many recognise. She added: "I’m delighted to support this world-class centre, developing cutting edge research and housing to help people live and age better.

"Everyone in our great North East should have access to a good home. I’m committed to making sure they do and to creating green jobs and opportunity as we build".

Coun Nick Kemp, leader of Newcastle City Council, said: "This marks the start of an exciting major development for our city which brings new life to an important site while delivering world-class research and healthcare facilities, housing, green spaces and leisure opportunities. This is just one of a number of development sites that can help transform our city and the lives of our residents.

"I’m really pleased to see work begin on the Health Innovation Neighbourhood and look forward to seeing it deliver the jobs, opportunities and growth that we all want to see in Newcastle as part of our commitment to achieving an inclusive economy that works for all our residents."