Health provision improvements stalled yet again

Bradley Stoke has for years had just a single health centre within its boundaries, serving a population that has now reached 20,000. It is widely agreed that further provision is necessary, but progress towards that goal has been slow and fraught with political in-fighting.

In 2005, South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) thought it was scoring political brownie points by announcing that it was providing valuable land, at a “knockdown price”, for the construction of a new health centre in Savages Wood Road. [Read the announcement on the Bradley Stoke Town Council website.] The land in question is a one acre site that remains undeveloped on the left of the access road leading to the existing Tesco store from the Three Brooks roundabout, between the new David Wilson Homes development and the 3 metre high “acoustic boundary” fence that has recently been erected alongside the public footpath leading towards Manor Farm Crescent.

However, hopes were dashed in 2006, when South Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust (PCT) decided not to develop the site, but instead to invest in expansion of three existing health centres already serving the town. This change of direction by the PCT, coupled with a change in the political make-up of SGC in May 2007, led to a public spat between SGC and the PCT, as evidenced by documents issued by both parties in September 2007. [SGC letter to PCT; PCT press release]

November 2007 saw a formal planning application for the expansion of the existing Bradley Stoke Surgery in Brook Way. The Town Council’s Planning, Environment & Amenities Committee had “no objection in principle” to the plans at their meeting of 28th November 2007, save to point out that they would “drastically reduce the number of parking spaces that is already inadequate and the extension will further conceal the existence of the Community Centre to the rear of the site”.

South Gloucestershire Council refused the application on 24th December 2007, citing, in addition to the parking concerns of the Town Council, that the “cramped form of the development would have a detrimental effect on the streetscene”.

The Surgey management has appealed the SGC decision and the case will now be examined by the government’s Planning Inspectorate, with a decision expected in May 2008.

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