A HOSPICE that has provided end of life care to hundreds of people from around the region has revealed plans for a major new extension that will allow it to help more patients.

St Teresa’s Hospice, based in Darlington, hopes to create a new ground floor in-patient unit with beds for ten people in a new single storey building in the hospice’s grounds.

The new unit would increase the number of people the hospice can care for at any time and will also allow patients to spend time in the garden.

The hospice provides in-patient and day care for people with life-limiting conditions, as well as complementary therapy for patients and bereavement counselling in the Darlington, South Durham and North Yorkshire areas.

A fundraising appeal to raise the money needed to complete the build is expected to be launched later this year in the hope that it can be built in time for the hospice’s 30th anniversary in 2016.

Planning permission for the new unit, which will be joined to an earlier extension built in 2008, has been passed by planning officials at Darlington Borough Council.

Concerns about the effect on the grade II-listed main hospice building and the wider conservation area were raised during the planning process, but officers determined that the benefit of the extension to the public would out-weigh any harm to the surroundings.

Jane Bradshaw, chief executive of the hospice, said the unit would be more modern and with better facilities to suit the needs of patients with complex, long-term conditions.

She added: “We have six beds available at the moment but they are not ideal because they are on the first floor and, although the old house has lots of charms, it does present quite a few challenges in terms of managing people with complex medical needs.

“We have beautiful gardens and we always wanted to make it possible for in patients as well as our day care patients to be able to access them.

“We do have a Grade II listed building but we do feel that since we’ve been here we’ve brought the building back to life and preserved its status as one of the grand old buildings of Darlington while putting it to good use for the whole of Darlington.”