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Wivenhoe: Lease agreed in health centre break-through

Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex

Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex

Anglia Picture Agency

A ten-year wait for a new health centre in Wivenhoe could finally be over.

The town’s GP practice has agreed in principle a lease with Essex County Council to use a former school building in Phillip Road.

Final details of the plan are yet to be revealed, and the deal is dependent on planning permission being granted for the development.

The surgery is also in negotiations with community groups about using the site’s main hall.

Several organisations, including cinema club Moving Image and youth group The Hub, have been left homeless since the Phillip Road Centre was closed to them by County Hall last summer.

A statement issued jointly by the surgery and the county council said: “In principle agreement has been reached between the Wivenhoe doctors and Essex County Council to agree an option to enter into a lease on the Phillip Road school site subject to planning being granted.

“There will be a separate arrangement agreed between the doctors and the community in respect of their future use of the theatre hall. Discussions in this respect are currently taking place.

“The doctors have engaged Ashley House Plc to act as their funding and development partners in the delivery of this project.”

Michael Padmore, chairman of the Phillip Road Users’ Group, added: “We look forward to the day when community activities can return to the centre.”

The Phillip Road Centre, a former school and used most recently a pupil referral unit, has been unused by the county council for around 18 months.

The search for a new health centre for Wivenhoe has been ongoing for more than a decade.

Previous proposals included using land next to the town’s fire station, but this was ruled out when pharmacy funding fell through meaning the development would need homes to fund it.

Bernard Jenkin, MP for Harwich and North Essex, said: “This is fantastic news. The surgery saga has dragged on for a decade and I am overjoyed that we can now see a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Everyone has been pulling in the same direction to reach this point and I will continue to do everything I can to support the surgery in making this a reality.

“It is also great for the community clubs which lost use of the building recently. This really could be a win-win scenario for everyone involved.”

A spokesman for the MP added he was now writing to NHS England to re-confirm a previous commitment to funding the project.

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