pounds 10m GATEWAY TO HEALTH; Go-ahead for '100 jobs' rehab unit vision.
MULTI-MILLION pound plans for a new neurological unit on Teesside have been given the go-ahead.
The Gateway development will help support and rehabilitate people with long-term neurological conditions.
The pounds 10m centre, to be built on a site at Middlehaven, has been approved by Middlesbrough Council's planning committee.
The facility, next to Middlesbrough College, will help people in their recovery from serious brain or spinal injury and other conditions.
Work is due to start this summer.
The new facility, expected to open in winter 2013, is a partnership between Gateshead-based healthcare firm Whickham Villa LLP, which specialises in providing neuro rehabilitation services, and social housing group Erimus Housing.
It will include a residential "step forward" rehabilitation centre, a specialist health club facility and a range of transitional and supported housing options.
Boda Gallon, chief executive at Whickham Villa LLP, said the scheme, which is expected to create more than 100 new jobs, would bring huge benefits.
He said: "Teesside will very much be leading the way as there is simply nothing like this anywhere in the UK. Currently, people discharged from hospital-based neuro and spinal units on Teesside often have to travel to Newcastle for specialist rehabilitation treatment."
He added the jobs and multi-million pound investment would also be "a fantastic boost for the local economy".
The main 40-bedroom facility includes an internal pool, gymnasium, therapy rooms, a cafe and community facilities.
Mr Gallon said: "It will help break down some of the social barriers and stigma surrounding disability."
He said the scheme was also a "win-win" situation for the neighbouring college.
The building's distinctive design was inspired by the former shipbuilding dock area nearby and an archived image of the hull of a ship in dry dock.
As part of the development, Erimus will be providing a range of transitional housing options.
Erimus managing director Chris Smith said: "We are really pleased to be part of this fantastic scheme."
She said it would "help provide a holistic service for people as they make the transition from dependence to independence".
HOLISTIC SERVICE: Erimus boss Chris Smith, right, and how centre will look