Bid for homes on land earmarked for new King's Lynn estate doctors' surgery backed by officials
Proposals to build homes on a car park close to an at risk Lynn medical practice have been supported by borough council officials.
Dozens of residents have already opposed the plan to develop part of the Centrepoint car park on the Fairstead estate.
They say the land was previously earmarked for a new surgery to replace the practice which is currently at risk of closure.
But West Norfolk Council officers have recommended that the application is approved when its planning committee meets in Lynn on Monday, November 4, arguing that concerns about health provision were beyond their remit.
Their report said: “The vast majority of objections from third parties relate to issues that cannot be controlled by the LPA (local planning authority).”
Seven properties are proposed as part of the application, submitted by Blend Properties LLP. They also propose 10 additional parking spaces.
The applicants’ case describes the site as “surplus” car parking in an area that is “in much need of additional housing.”
But that view provoked fury when details of the developer’s original proposal for eight properties was first made public in the summer.
And the mood doesn’t appear to have changed since then with 60 public comments being lodged against the scheme on the borough council’s planning webpage, compared to just one in support.
Many objectors are concerned about the potential impact on health services in the area, particularly if the existing Fairstead Surgery is shut.
Its current operator, Vida Healthcare, has proposed to close it and offer patients the choice of transferring to either the Gayton Road Health Centre or the St Augustine’s Surgery in North Lynn, both of which it also operates.
But a report of the public consultation carried out on the proposal, which was published by Healthwatch Norfolk last week, showed that respondents who felt the issue had been handled badly outnumbered those who thought it had been conducted well by more than four to one.
Glyn Watkins, chairman of the surgery’s patient participation group said it was “premature” to judge the housing application until the future of the surgery has been decided.
That issue is expected to be determined at a West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group committee meeting in late November.
He also pointed out that Healthwatch had called on stakeholders to “ensure that access to treatment is not inhibited by potential new developments on the site”,should the surgery remain open.
But planners pointed out that no statutory consultees had raised concerns about the application.
They also argued that objections raised by some critics on the grounds of overlooking neighbouring properties were not a material concern, given that some would be facing the existing car park and it was “not uncommon” for homes to overlook school play areas as others would.
The application will go before the committee as the result of a call-in by ward councillor Gary Howman.
The report said his move had also been supported by the other Fairstead councillor, deputy mayor Margaret Wilkinson, and four other Labour councillors, Sandra Collop, Christine Hudson, Ben Jones and Jo Rust.