Green light given to build super GP surgery in Preston catering for 25,000 patients

A new super surgery in the heart of Preston has been given the go ahead.

Thursday, 11th July 2019, 5:50 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th July 2019, 6:50 pm
An artist's impression of what the new super surgery will look like (Cassidy + Ashton)

Preston Council's Planning Committee unanimously approved the plans at its monthly meeting on Thursday (July 11).

It means that services provided by the five GP surgeries of Lytham Road Surgery, Medicom Surgery, and ‘The Surgery’ – made up of Beach Drive Surgery, Drs Robb and Robb, and Moor Park – will soon come under one roof in a new healthcare centre being built behind the Jeanne Jugan residential block at the former Little Sisters of the Poor care home in Garstang Road, Fulwood.

It will mean 25,000 patients will be relocated; something the team behind the plans, HBS Group, predicts could soon reach 30,000 due to new housing developments in the area.

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An artist's impression of what the new super surgery will look like (Cassidy + Ashton)

220 car parking spaces will be created, along with 18 disabled spots and 38 cycling spaces.

But while the committee unanimously backed the scheme, nearby residents did not.

David Bennett, a Hall Road resident, addressed the committee over "objections and concerns" on behalf of residents of the road which lies to the immediate north of the proposed three-storey surgery.

He said residents would like conditions placed on the application "to address the loss of privacy with either the removal of windows on the northern aspect overlooking the properties of Hall Road or some form of screening or opaque covering of the windows to prevent occupants looking out on to the properties".

An artist's impression of what the new super surgery will look like to the north of the former Little Sisters of the Poor care home (Cassidy + Ashton)

Regarding an already established buffer zone land between the surgery and the homes, Mr Bennett said residents wanted to increase the size of the zone and to add a condition to the application to "force the planting of tall mature trees from the outset", rather than just the planting of small trees "that could take years to grow".

Committee vice-chair Coun David Borrow questioned whether the surgery could potentially overlook properties in Hall Road, something planning officers played down with the building being 10.5 metres from garden boundaries and around 30 metres from the homes themselves.

Fellow committee member Coun Susan Whittam asked whether there was any reason the windows on the north side of the property overlooking houses in Hall Road were not obscure, to which planning officers said they didn't consider a condition was required due to the 30 metre distance to homes.

Officers also pointed out that there are already north facing windows in the four-storey Jeanne Jugan residential block overlooking Hall Road.

Susan Cross, who has lived in Garstang Road with husband Paul directly next to where surgery's access road will be, spoke passionately to committee members about the 'enhanced security threat' they face due to the development.

Holding back tears, Mrs Cross said: "As next door neighbours we're very concerned about the huge increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic that this development will bring very close to our property.

"It can begin at 8am until 10pm with the late night pharmacy, bringing a dramatic rise in unmonitored traffic.

"As the proposed main entrance is to be sited right next door to our home garden and drive way, it creates an enhanced threat to our security.

"With light pollution, noise and disturbance during these extended hours, the privacy and security of our existing property, which has been our home for 35 years, will be compromised and the nature of our quiet secluded garden will be changed."

She also raised noise, disturbance, and privacy issues for the "whole residential area" during construction of the surgery.

After no personal comments were made by committee members, the committee approved the surgery plans by 10 votes to zero.

Prior to the meeting 21 objections to the three-storey building were lodged with the council over concerns regarding traffic, noise and disturbance to neighbouring homes.

And during the consultation period for the plans issues were raised by patients, including the difficulty in travelling to the new super surgery and the potential increase in patients going to the A&E at Royal Preston Hospital, instead of a GP clinic.

In documents submitted to the council, planning agents for the project, Cassidy + Ashton, said: "The proposal will increase the capacity for primary care appointments, not only over extended hours, but also providing longer appointments for those that require them.

"Extended opening hours and appointment availability would in turn reduce the number of attendances at A+E and out-of-hours services."