Plans have been granted for a new orthopaedic unit at Newmarket Community Hospital - saving travel to Bury St Edmunds or Cambridge for operations.

The two-storey building at the site in Exning Road would include a 32-bed inpatient ward and two "laminar flow" operating theatres.

A design, access and planning statement with the application said the hospital has 19 inpatient beds, an X-ray department, outpatient clinics, mental health services, podiatry, physiotherapy facilities and dentistry.

But there is currently no dedicated operating theatres at the site, meaning emergency and planned operations are sent to West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds - half an hour away.

East Anglian Daily Times: A design for the new unit at Newmarket HospitalA design for the new unit at Newmarket Hospital (Image: KLH Architects Ltd)

The statement said: "The requirement for Newmarket to have its own laminar flow theatres and recovery suites will greatly benefit the local community by giving a more local site to the immediate catchment and also benefit other Suffolk patients by relieving some of the pressure on the Bury St Edmunds site."

It said a long-term NHS plan had been in place since 2019 to reduce patient waiting times, but this had been "greatly exacerbated" following the pandemic.

The report said the new centre would also benefit those involved in Newmarket's horseracing industry in the event of an accident that needed immediate treatment, saving the travel to Bury St Edmunds or Cambridge.

The planning statement said it was essential the new building was connected to the X-ray department and near the main hospital patient parking. They said site A was the only one that achieved that criteria.

East Anglian Daily Times: A visual showing options for where the unit could be. The planning statement said site A is preferredA visual showing options for where the unit could be. The planning statement said site A is preferred (Image: KLH Architects Ltd)

Some neighbours to the site, who live in Heasman Close, had raised concerns including over their privacy, noise pollution and the design of the proposed building, saying "we do not want to look at an eyesore everyday".

Newmarket Town Council welcomed the plans, but requested that other sites be considered - in particular site C in the hospital grounds - and that the opinions of nearby residents should be seriously considered.

Among the conditions of the planning approval, is one saying the first-floor windows must be "obscure glazed" to safeguard the amenity of neighbours.

The grade-II listed White Lodge is also one of the surrounding buildings, but the West Suffolk Council conservation officer, who had no objection to the application, said the building's design had been amended since the pre-application advice, with the mono-pitch roof being replaced by a flat one.

The delegated officer report, which recommended planning approval, said: "Being a medical facility, the size and scale are somewhat dictated by the provision required to service the end user, however the proposed new two-storey
inpatient ward is considered to be of an appropriate scale, form and design."

Newmarket Hospital is owned by West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, which also runs West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds.

The trust was approached for comment about the planning approval.

West Suffolk Council approved the application on Monday, December 6.