Chemist and cafe no longer part of smaller-scale Whittle GP surgery plans

A new GP surgery planned for Whittle-le-Woods will no longer feature a pharmacy and community café, after changes were approved by Chorley Council.

Saturday, 30th May 2020, 12:37 am
Updated Saturday, 30th May 2020, 12:42 am
The original design for the surgery - but the third storey has been removed

The authority took over responsibility for delivering the development last year and has now revised initial proposals which first emerged back in 2017, when NHS funding was being sought for the project.

The scheme will provide a new base for Whittle Surgery, less than a quarter of a mile away from the existing practice on Preston Road.

The building was originally intended to be three storeys high in parts – but the proposed top floor has now been scrapped. Under the redesigned plans, the medical centre will be formed from a part single-storey, part two-storey construction.

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A virtual meeting of the council’s planning meeting gave the go-ahead for the changes, which will see the proposed chemist and café elements of the development removed.

Members heard that patients will be able to collect prescriptions from an existing pharmacy nearby.

The footprint of the building – on the site of the now demolished St. John’s Church hall – will remain unaltered, but papers presented to the committee revealed that changes have been made to the windows and doors of the facility. They will now be timber-clad, rather than white, in order to ensure a “less stark” appearance.

“The proposed amendments would reduce the scale of development resulting in a more harmonious appearance in the street scene along Preston Road, which…would result in a more positive impact on the appearance of the site and character of the locality,” a report by planning officers said.

However, committee member Martin Boardman questioned why a previous commitment by the authority to build the development to a recognised sustainability standard had not been imposed by a condition on the new planning permission. Fellow member Steve Holgate added that it was important to create “a quality building which includes environmental features”.

Principal planning officer Iain Crossland said that there was nothing about the application which prevented the authority from honouring that pledge.

Speaking after the meeting, council leader Alistair Bradley confirmed that the proposed environmental aspects of the building were unchanged.

“Our plans are for the build to be completed to a BREEAM excellent sustainability rating, which includes – but is not limited to – solar power and an electric charging point for cars. Measures to contribute to the development being carbon neutral, such as ground source or air source heat pumps are being considered.”

He added: “Plans for the new Whittle-le-Woods GP Surgery are progressing and we’re really looking forward to the start of the construction, which is expected in the autumn.”

Chorley Council last year committed to spending just over £1m on delivering the development. It purchased the plot – and carried out a feasibility study – at a cost of £525,000.

The cash has been allocated 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.