The creation of a new £35m cancer centre in Carlisle has hit a major milestone – with demolition of the Cumberland Infirmary’s eyesore tower block now well underway.
Once the old hospital building is flattened, it will make way for the ultra-modern new treatment centre to be constructed next to the main infirmary.
The oncology centre will house new technology and bring radiotherapy and chemotherapy services – which are currently in separate parts of the hospital site – together.
The redundant 1960s tower block building has stood empty for years. It was condemned shortly after Storm Desmond in 2015, when excessive rain penetrated the building and electrics, and has long been regarded as a local eyesore.
At one point there was talk of turning it into a multi-storey car park, but that never happened.
Now national NHS funding has been secured to construct a £35m new cancer centre on the site of the former hospital block.
Preparation work started on site in November, when scaffolding and plastic shrouding was erected around it. Now demolition has begun – and is already about 25 per cent complete.
Suzanne Stanley, radiotherapy services manager, said: “This is really exciting for the team. We are now seeing daily progress.
“We’ve all been waiting for such a long time for this. A lot of people wondered if it would ever happen. It’s great to get to this point.”
The cancer centre will incorporate two new linear accelerator (LINAC) radiotherapy machines, as well as other technology.
“This will make sure everyone gets the most modern radiotherapy and will bring radiotherapy and chemotherapy under one roof, which is exactly where it should be. That can only be good for patients,” she added.
Gina Tiller, chairwoman of North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust, said she has been pushing for the tower block to be flattened for five years.
“What a fantastic reason for bringing it down – for a new cancer centre. It’s a perfect use of the space. Everyone is very excited.
“For me it’s great to see something that I’ve wanted to happen for so long come to fruition. The new cancer centre will provide much better services for the whole of Cumbria.”
Tim Holliday, director of CCL Solutions, has been overseeing the work. He said demolition should be complete by April.
“We are hoping to start building in the summer, with completion planned for early 2021.
“It is progressing really well. It is a complicated demolition. There are a lot of other buildings around it. It’s a working hospital site so you also have noise and dust. The shrouding is to control that,” he added.
Visit www.newsandstar.co.uk to see a video of the demolition.