Controversial Fylde coast health centre plans approved

Posted on September 4, 2009. Filed under: News stories |

Blackpool Gazette | By Julia Bennett | North Lancashire PCT | 4 September 2009

PLANS to build a controversial health centre on Station Road in Poulton have been given a seal of approval.
Councillors voted unanimously in favour of the proposal – but then delegated the matter to Wyre’s director of planning after the Health and Safety Executive asked to examine the plans.

Both residents and councillors spoke in favour of the application, which proposes to house Queensway Medical Centre, Poulton Clinic and Lockwood Avenue Surgery as well as providing other facilities, such as a pharmacy and a cafe, on Station Road.

But Philip Hargreaves, head of estate planning for NHS North Lancashire, which has submitted another application for a health centre on Vicarage Road, Poulton, raised concerns about traffic and a gas pipe running underneath the site.

He added: “No discussions have taken place with the Station Road application.

“It is therefore very risky in terms of the accuracy. This site comes at high risk.

“It’s not the sort of site the NHS wants to get married to.”

The architects behind the design maintain attempts were made to discuss the proposals with NHS North Lancashire.

Chris Garner, who was representing the Station Road site at the planning meeting, said: “We are very keen to have that dialogue.”

And Coun Gordon McCann urged the Primary Care Trust (PCT) to “take notice” of the views of Poulton residents.

He said: “I think this is a great site. I’m very disappointed with the comments NHS North Lancashire have made. It seems to be pretty obvious they have set their mind against it.

“The health service should serve the people and take notice of their views.”

John Bailie, spokesman for CROP (Concerned Residents of Poulton), which has collected more than 3,000 signatures in support of the Station Road application, said he was pleased with the decision.

He said: “It shows there’s an increasing awareness this is a really exciting opportunity.

“It was particularly good to see how many councillors were in support of Station Road.”

Objection

NHS North Lancashire bosses had previously warned it would cost more than £2m to prepare the Station Road land, which is known to be contaminated – a claim developers the Baxter Group refute.

David Walker, of the Baxter Group, said: “As far as the health centre site is concerned, the allocated remediation and realignment of the gas main costs are circa £350,000 out of a total remediation and moving of the gas main cost of just short of £1m for the whole of the site.”

The HSE has 21 days to make an objection to the plans.

The Vicarage Road application is yet to be discussed by Wyre planning committee.

If that site is also approved the ultimate decision on the health centre’s location will lie with NHS North Lancashire.

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