Councillors to decide whether developer must replace GP surgery in Bevendean

A developer who hopes to build student flats on the site of a former doctor’s surgery has re-applied to the council to relax a key planning condition.

Heath Hill Student Developments was unsuccessful in February when it asked Brighton and Hove City Council to drop the requirement for a temporary replacement surgery on the site.

The requirement is one of the conditions attached to an existing planning permission to build a block of 24 student bedrooms. Now the company wants to remove the requirement to provide a temporary surgery during construction.

The previous owner was granted permission in in 2015 to build on the corner of Heath Hill Avenue and Auckland Drive, in Bevendean, previously the site of the Willow House surgery.

Heath Hill Avenue where the new student flats are set to be built

As councillors prepare to decide the application next week, council officials have advised them to agree to drop the demand. A decision is due to made by the council’s Planning Committee at a virtual meeting, starting at 2pm on Wednesday, May 5.

A report to the committee said that the previous surgery was demolished four years ago with 'no harmful impact on the surrounding area'.

It also said that a letter from the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) had not resulted in added pressure on other surgeries in the area.

And, the CCG said, there was no demand for an additional surgery at the Bevendean site.

The former Willow House Surgery in Bevendean

In February, councillors voted six to two to refuse the developer’s request.

Labour councillor Daniel Yates, who represents Moulsecoomb and Bevendean, said that he could understand the NHS position as the surgery closed in September 2016 and was demolished shortly afterwards.

He said: “The people of Bevendean have lost their GP surgery completely. They are under threat of losing their next local GP surgery and having it moved to where I live, at the far end of the ward, two bus journeys away.

“They haven’t had a chance to vocalise the anger that they feel about the continued messing about over this site.”

Green councillor Sue Shanks said: “At the time, there were a lot of complaints about the loss of that surgery. Certainly, a lot of residents would welcome another surgery.”

Councillor Shanks said that it was irrelevant whether the CCG wanted a surgery at the site.

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