PLANS to build a new £10million health centre in Sudbury are a step closer after NHS Suffolk approved the business case for the project.

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An NHS spokesman confirmed that, following a board meeting on Wednesday, the state-of-the-art facility – which will be built in Church Field Road – was still on track to open next year.

Building work on the health centre was scheduled to start this autumn and delays to the project have sparked concern among local residents.

There have also been fears that the project could be further delayed by West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – one of the groups that will occupy the centre – because it is yet to sign a final tenancy agreement committing it to annual costs of £233,000 for its share of the lease and service charges.

But according to an NHS Suffolk spokesman, the project will go ahead subject to rubber stamping by the strategic health authority.

He said: “This purpose-built health facility has been rigorously project managed to ensure it is value for money. NHS Suffolk has worked closely with the community as well as GPs, West Suffolk Hospital Trust, Suffolk Community Healthcare, Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust and a number of other providers. The project is in its final stages of approval after which we can begin to make this a reality.”

A spokesman for West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust said they were also fully committed to the project, adding: “As with any major development, we have a duty to look carefully at each aspect of the proposal to make sure it will meet the needs of the people using our services and offers value for money.

“We are going through this due diligence process at the moment and expect to complete these approvals imminently.”

Chilton Parish Council chairman Peter Clifford, who is also a Sudbury hospital WATCH group member, said he remained confident that once the remaining “red tape” was out of the way and all leasing agreements were in place, the construction of the new health centre would begin early in the new year.

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