Change of tone on new health centre for Dunmow

Plans to relocate or refurbish Angel Lane surgery in Dunmow were suggested by the West Essex CCG. Pi

Plans to relocate or refurbish Angel Lane surgery in Dunmow were suggested by the West Essex CCG. Picture: GOOGLE - Credit: Archant

Plans for a new health centre in the south of Dunmow look uncertain after an NHS health commissioning body, which said it did not support the scheme last year, subsequently softened its stance.

An application is currently lodged with Uttlesford District Council (UDC) for the development of a 1,800 square metre health centre as well as more than 400 homes on a site south of Stortford Road.

A planning statement, submitted on behalf of applicants Siemens Benefit Scheme Ltd and Keir Living, states that specific details of the centre will be presented in a later submission.

However, in a letter to UDC dated December 7, 2018, the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said it does "not support the requirement for a health centre" at this site.

Instead, the CCG requested £130,893 from the developer to mitigate against healthcare impacts caused by the proposed development.

The letter, from assistant director Geoff Roberts, went on: "The existing GP practices do not have capacity to accommodate the additional growth resulting from the proposed development. The development could generate approximately 830 residents and subsequently increase demand upon existing constrained services."

Improving capacity could be achieved by the refurbishment or the potential relocation of Angel Lane Surgery in Dunmow "for the benefits of the patients", the letter added.

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However, when contacted by the Broadcast last week, West Essex CCG said it was still "open" to the option of a health centre on the site.

A spokesman for the group said: "Since April further discussions have taken place between ourselves and Uttlesford District Council and we have agreed that, for now, the proposal remains open with regard to the option of a health centre development on the proposed site."

Rod Jones, district councillor for Dunmow South and Barnston, said: "Residents tell us that doctors' surgeries and dentists are oversubscribed. Dunmow has come under significant pressure due to the huge growth in new housing over the last decade.

"It would seem that building a new facility will make sure that the money raised from developers will actually benefit the local community rather than disappearing into an unknown pot at the NHS clinical commissioning group headquarters in Epping. It looks like the commissioning group may have reached this conclusion too."

Great Dunmow Town Councillor Philip Milne, who is chairman of the council's planning committee, said: "They [West Essex CCG] said they no longer wanted to have a site on the development which strikes me as very strange. It strikes me as common sense to have another doctor's surgery."