Plan for new Whittle GP surgery gets £1m funding boost

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Demolition work will begin over the winter to pave the way for a new GP practice in Whittle-le-Woods.

Whittle Surgery is set to move from its existing base on Preston Road to a new site on land currently occupied by the disused St. John’s Church hall, less than a quarter of a mile away.

Whittle Surgery is set for a new home (image: Google Streetview)

Whittle Surgery is set for a new home (image: Google Streetview)

Chorley Council is funding the new development after hearing that the current building is no longer fit for purpose.

A last-minute amendment to the authority’s budget in February allocated £525,000 to purchase the plot and carry out a feasibility study.

At a private meeting of the council’s cabinet on Thursday, members agreed to earmark just over £1m to cover the cost of delivering the new facility.

The cash will come from the borough’s community infrastructure levy (CIL), a pot of contributions demanded from developers to go towards infrastructure projects in areas where they are building new homes. Chorley Council received just over £5m in CIL payments during 2018/19, bringing the total fund to £5.7m at the start of the current financial year.

Detailed design work can now take place to determine how the new surgery will look. Demolition of the church hall – which used to operate as a nursery – can also be planned and is expected to happen either shortly before or after Christmas.

In a statement issued after the cabinet meeting, council leader Alistair Bradley said: “Since we bought the land earlier this year, we’ve been working hard to put together a proposal that will deliver a new GP practice that can replace the one occupied by Whittle Surgery.

“While we’ve been doing site investigations and drawing up plans for the site we’ve also been exploring how we will fund the project and roughly half of it will now be funded by money from developers that have been building new homes in the borough.

“We’ve seen first-hand the struggles that the surgery is having to keep up with demand so it’s right that money from new housing developments goes towards this project.

“We’ve been moving as quickly as we can to get work started and we’d expect demolition to take place in the coming months – we’ll let people know whether that will be before or after Christmas.”

“It is really important people get easy access to healthcare facilities like this and it is another example of us investing in our rural villages to benefit residents,” Cllr Bradley added.

The proposed design will be made public as soon as it has been finalised.

Whittle Surgery was approached for comment.