Positives of new Hailsham medical centre ‘far outweigh’ minuses

Plans for a new medical centre in Hailsham
Plans for a new medical centre in Hailsham

Proposals to build a new medical centre in Hailsham has been approved by Wealden planners this week.

The plans, to build a medical centre and commercial pharmacy on land opposite Reef Way, were approved by  Wealden District Council’s planning committee south on Thursday (October 11).

The finished building is intended to serve as a new home for both Hailsham Medical Group and Bridgeside Surgery.

Before making a decision the committee heard representations from both from the developer’s planning agent Samantha Gibbs and local patient Wendy Taylor, who opposed the scheme.

Ms Taylor said: “My objection is not to the building itself, it is to its location. This [site] is on a steep incline. You mention mobility scooters being able to use the path, but not everybody would want to use a mobility scooter.

“I’ve walked that path and by the time I got up to the car park, I was actually out of breath. If I get out of breath walking up that path then people older than me, with difficult health problems are going to be affected as well.

“This is a health centre people going to it are not going to be well. I think there is a big access problem here.”

However, during her representation, Ms Gibbs highlighted the how both Hailsham Medical Group and Bridgeside Surgery needed new facilities.

She said: “Both practices are currently at or over capacity and cannot take on new patients due to inadequate facilities and existing premises space compared to current NHS guidelines.

“The proposal allows for high-quality primary care meeting current demands and allowing flexibility for future growth.”

Ms Gibbs also addressed concerns neighbours had raised about parking in the area. She said that while the centre would employ around 68 staff, no more than 25 of them would be expected to be working at the same time.

She added that the medical centre car park would have up to 65 spaces, with 15 set aside for staff.  

During the following debate, committee members addressed some of Ms Taylor’s concerns about accessibility. They included Nigel Coltman (Con. – Hailsham Central and North), who spoke about the chosen site.

He said: “There are deficiencies where it is, but it is close to town and it is close access for most people in different forms of transport.

“I don’t like the design. Most of the design of the Reef Way estate is a bit more traditional, but this is way into the modern area. But everyone has their different tastes.  

“Having looked at all the various aspects of it and where it is positioned in town. There are minuses, but the positives far outweigh it and I would definitely recommend this to the committee.”

Councillors also raised concerns over an objection from East Sussex Highways about the number of parking spaces. Officers said they considered the Highways advice to be unjust.

Following a short debate, the committee resolved to approved the plans but with additional conditions intended to ensure there is adequate parking  for disabled blue badge holders.

Further details of the scheme can be found by searching for planning reference WD/2018/1806/MAJ on the Wealden District Council website.

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