Plans for £9m health centre in Middlewich are unveiled to public

Posted on October 2, 2009. Filed under: News stories |

Middlewich Guardian | By David Morgan | 2 October 2009

AMBITIOUS plans for an all-in-one health centre and sports pitch in Middlewich were unveiled to the public last Thursday.

Health chiefs set up information boards at the civic hall and answered questions about the £9million project which is set to transform the existing Oaklands Surgery, off St Ann’s Walk.

“The benefit is a vastly improved premises which means improved care”

Project manager Nicola Kent

Oakapple Primary Care Developments has submitted a planning application for a 3,860 square metre facility, which will create more than 10 jobs.

The proposed facility will be the new home for Acorns Surgery and create a Primary Care Trust clinic, children’s centre, dental practice and pharmacy.

A modern all-weather sports pitch is also set to be built including perimeter fencing and floodlighting.

“It will bring the community together,” said project manager Nicola Kent, of the Primary Care Trust.

“The benefit is a vastly improved premises which means improved care.”

Ms Kent also said the development will stop Middlewich residents having to go out of town for things like physiotherapy and blood tests.

But she said the most unique element is working directly with the Children’s Centre, which provides education, childcare and support services for families and tackles issues such as childhood obesity.

Ms Kent said: “They haven’t got anywhere in Middlewich so they’ll share the facility with us. It’ll be a ‘one stop shop’ where all health needs are attended.”

If the scheme goes ahead, the Oaklands and Acorns surgeries will share the same building but be kept separate.

But during the consultation, residents raised concerns that the two surgeries will share a waiting room.

There are fears that there could be confusion and miscommunication as both surgeries use different methods for calling patients.

Ms Kent added: “It’s public policy to share as many facilities as possible. It can work very well.

“When you’ve got a new building you’ve got to do things differently and think outside the box.

“I think once people move in they’ll see the benefits and enjoy working together.”

The scheme, which also includes around 70 free parking spaces, is expected to be scrutinised by planning bosses at Cheshire East Council in October.

If it is given the green light, it will take around 70 weeks to build and a forecasted 15,000 people are expected to use the facility each year.

Ms Kent told the Guardian that if the project is given the thumbs up, it will be the culmination of four years’ hard work.

She added: “We struggled to find a site for a long time. We looked everywhere until we came up with this idea to refurbish the football pitch.

“It’s really important to get people healthy and encourage them to play sports so it fits in perfectly.”

The health centre is to be built on the site of the existing Oaklands Surgery and will form part of a proposed land swap deal involving land on the adjoining Middlewich High School site and Dyer’s Field, behind the White Horse on Lewin Street.

Clr Paul Edwards, of Middlewich Town Council, said he hopes the facility will not encroach on Market Field, which is used for community functions, including the Rose Fete.

Darren Oxley, primary care development manager at Oakapple “There’s no possibility of that. It’s all within the boundaries.”

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