Condemned tower block at Carlisle's Cumberland Infirmary to be demolished
by Pamela McGowan
A redundant tower block building at Carlisle’s Cumberland Infirmary has been condemned and is scheduled for demolition.
Having stood largely unused for years, there has long been talk of demolishing the building, which stands next to the main hospital.
At one point bosses were looking at turning it into a multi-storey car park or leasing the building to a third party to generate income.
But the News & Star can reveal the building was condemned shortly after the 2015 floods, when excessive rain penetrated the building and electrics. Bosses must pull it down or agree extensive repair work.
North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said the tower is no longer in use, aside from some storage, which is gradually being moved out.
The News & Star requested details about the building under the Freedom of Information Act. It confirmed the building will now be flattened.
The trust said: “The building has been scheduled for demolition and was condemned shortly after the 2015 floods and is no longer in use. It houses minimal storage that is almost fully decanted.
“We are in the process of finalising plans for use of the site that include demolition. These will be made public upon approval.”
The News & Star asked for details about the cost of the building, including essential maintenance and utilities costs. The trust would not publish any figures, stating only that minimal security maintenance has been paid to Interserve Facilities Management, the firm which is also contracted to maintain the main infirmary building.
In terms of utilities, it added: “The trust does not have separate charges for the building. Utilities are part of site wide contracts and systems.”
The news comes more than six years after bosses agreed a refinance deal that took the tower block building out of the controversial Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract – a mortgage-type deal which funded the new-build infirmary.
This meant that, until 2010, responsibility for the tower block was with PFI partner Health Management (Carlisle) PLC. But the refinancing meant responsibility for the tower went back to the trust, which set up a separate agreement with contractor Interserve to look after the premises day-to-day.
In 2011, the trust said it was looking at the possibility of leasing the space out to a third party, but plans never came to fruition.
At one point, the block’s use was being reviewed as part of a potential takeover by Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which has been shelved. The trust said the site will now be looked at as part of a wider review of NHS buildings across the area.
This ties in with the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) currently being drawn up for the area, creating a long term vision of how services will be developed across north and west Cumbria.