PLANS have been submitted for a new headquarters for the region’s air ambulance service.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is wanting to build the new base and a Medical Centre of Excellence at Urlay Nook, near Stockton, on the former Elementis chromium works site.

The charity has agreed a deal for the site but it is dependent on planning permission being granted by Stockton Borough Council.

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The entire project, including the purchase of the land, the buildings, and the construction of the new facilities, is forecast to cost £3.9m, which is being financed through a combination of fundraising, reserves, additional borrowing, and grants from the Government through the LIBOR banking fine fund.

Last year, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced £1m from the fund would be allocated to the project.

This was £900,000 short of what GNAAS had applied for, but Grahame Pickering MBE, the charity’s chief executive, has confirmed the project would still go ahead, albeit over a longer timescale than previously proposed.

He said: “The renovation and repurposing of the existing facilities could potentially start in the new year 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. 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.

“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.”

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.

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.