Medical centre gets support

COMMUNITY leaders in Wivenhoe are backing a proposal that would see part of the town's much-guarded green belt land used for building a news medical centre.

COMMUNITY leaders in Wivenhoe are backing a proposal that would see part of the town's much-guarded green belt land used for building a news medical centre.

Eugene Kraft and David Adams, councillors for Wivenhoe Cross ward, have come out strongly in favour of building a new medical centre on protected agricultural land near the town's fire station in Colchester Road.

They argue that rules protecting the undeveloped land between Colchester and Wivenhoe, the so-called 'green wedge', should be relaxed because a new doctors' surgery is so desperately needed in the town.

Wivenhoe's existing surgery has been unable to take on new patients since the population of the town began expanding rapidly in recent years.


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Because of this, the two Conservative councillors believe Colchester Borough planners should treat the proposal to stray on to the green wedge as an exceptional case.

Councillor David Adams said: "The land is scheduled as agricultural land, and is part of a coastal protection belt so the regulations are pretty strict.

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"I have always maintained that we should keep and not build on green wedge land.

"However the population of Wivenhoe is increasing and is now approaching 10,000. A medical centre would have a bigger catchment than that and it should be seen as an exception to planning rules, as it is a special case," he said.

An alternative site for the surgery opposite Millfields School, recently discussed by councillors, would not be nearly as attractive to residents, Mr Adams said.

"It's a bad location on top of a hill and the elderly or infirm wishing to walk to the surgery would find it difficult. The site near the fire station is near a parade of shops, a pharmacy and is right by a bus stop with frequent bus services," he said.

"There is no dispute regarding the need for a medical centre – the only issue is where and funding," he added.

However Tom Roberts, Secretary of local conservation group the Wivenhoe Society, was less clear-cut in his support.

He said: "There is a desperate need for a new health centre. The existing one has been closed to new patients for two years, and something needs to be done.

"The proposed Millfields site would mean building on public open space and just as controversial as building on the green belt," he said.

But he added: "Speaking personally, I think building on green belt land would be unfortunate and I wish they would find somewhere else.

"The reason the green wedge is sacrosanct is so that we do not allow creeping development."

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