Final plans for new car park at Woolpit Health Centre given green light

A shot from the video of Woolpit Health Centre

Woolpit Health Centre. - Credit: Archant

Final approval has been given for the construction of a car park close to Woolpit Health Centre, in order to support the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Mid Suffolk District Council's development control committee on Wednesday unanimously agreed to matters around layout, landscaping and appearance of the car park off Old Stowmarket Road. 

Despite the consultation not ending until June 9, all seven councillors voted in favour, with the chief planning officer reading out one informative and two conditions, relating to cycling and access improvements. 

The application follows outline planning permission being given, with David Wilson Homes building a new 115-home community, Abbots Green.

Woolpit's village sign

Woolpit will soon have a new car park for its surgery, with 136 spaces proposed. - Credit: Archant Archives

The developers will provide the money for the car park as part of the planning agreement. 

There is a condition to provide 136 spaces and cycle parking is also proposed, along with a number of allocated disable parking and electric vehicle charging points. 

Councillor Helen Geake, district councillor for Woolpit and Elmswell, who sits on Woolpit Parish Council, said: "The car park is generally supported by Woolpit Parish Council, but there are some concerns related to its use.

"There is of course a need for more parking at the health centre, both for the current Covid vaccination programme and for the rise in patient numbers in the 23 parishes it serves. But it has also been agreed by all sides that it will be a public car park too. We feel this is the right thing to do especially as public money will be used to build it." 

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The parish council also raised some concerns over lighting, hours of use, responsibility for managing the car park and the management of the electric charging points. 

Ward councillor Sarah Mansel, who represents Woolpit and Elmswell, said it is "really good" to see these plans being brought forward early as a response to the Covid pandemic.

She raised some concerns over the lighting and the temporary access road, but said on the whole she is supportive of what she called a "great project".

Elmswell councillors Helen Geake and Sarah Mansel

Elmswell councillors Helen Geake (left) and Sarah Mansel (right) - Credit: Wendy Turner

The access to the site for cars would take place from the northern boundary, which is via the surrounding residential development that is currently under construction.

However, the pressing need for the facility means that a temporary vehicular access to the site would be made available from the Health Centre site, while the development is completed.

A permanent access will be created off Old Stowmarket Road, meaning residents of Elmswell won't need to travel through the congested centre of Woolpit.

Questions were raised over the temporary access, smart lighting, alternative use of the car park, cycling, and pedestrian access. These will all be discussed and determined by the parish council, Mid Suffolk District Council, the surgery and the school.

A spokesman for Elmswell Parish Council said: "Councillors have asked that I write in support of this emerging development which they consider to be entirely appropriate given the well-versed problems of parking at the Health Centre.

"The proposal offers a sustainable and efficient travel route for the Elmswell catchment which forms a significant element of the patient list, and the incidental pedestrian access to Woolpit School would seem to be a worthwhile benefit."

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