One stop health shop set for green light

COUNCILLORS are likely to give the green light to plans for a pioneering one-stop health shop at Saxmundham.A report to Suffolk Coastal District Council's development control sub-committee, which meets on Wednesday , will examine plans by Saxmundham GPs to create a large centre next to the town's sports ground at North Entrance housing a number of health and social services related groups.

COUNCILLORS are likely to give the green light to plans for a pioneering one-stop health shop at Saxmundham.

A report to Suffolk Coastal District Council's development control sub-committee, which meets on Wednesday , will examine plans by Saxmundham GPs to create a large centre next to the town's sports ground at North Entrance housing a number of health and social services related groups.

Among the proposed users of the centre, which would have a gross floor area of around 3,900 square metres, would be a birthing unit situated above an ambulance station.

A café area, family support services, a crèche, a surgery, dentist's, optician's and physiotherapy area are also proposed.


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There would also be a base for Suffolk Doctors on Call.

There are plans for 151 car parking spaces.

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While core hours would be between 8am to 8pm for the site, the Doctors on Call service would operate during the evenings and weekends, while the ambulance station would be manned 24 hours a day. The birthing unit would be open as and when necessary.

Saxmundham town council and Kelsale-cum-Carlton parish council support the plans, which are praised by a number of groups.

The Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridge National Health Service Strategic Health Authority said the scheme would provide "a number of significant benefits to the community".

BABIES, a campaign group formed by mothers in the Suffolk Coastal area who are seeking a birthing centre in the area said they strongly supported the proposals which they felt would meet the needs of the local population.

"Saxmundham has an ever-expanding population and the proposals for a one-stop shop are forward thinking and will hopefully meet the needs of the large populace for the foreseeable future".

Five Suffolk Coastal midwives describe the project as "unique and pioneering" and of "immense benefit" to local citizens.

"Ipswich Hospital is a long way to go for women in labour. Research shows beyond doubt that the outcomes for mother and baby in a low risk pregnancy are far better when care is given by midwives in home from home birthing units," they say.

The proposals have attracted 92 letters of support from 129 residents. Three letters of objection from near neighbours raise a range of concerns on issues including vehicle access, impinging on historic parkland and adverse effect on the local amenity.

The Saxmundham Business Association raises concerns about the scale of the new site, and its effect on the town centre. It asked for a postponement of a decision to enable the association to arrange an open meeting with its members and other interested parties.

Planners are recommending that they should be given authority to approve the plans subject to more information on the users of the building, particularly the social services element. They said they had requested "greater clarification" about the users and whether the social services element would all fall within the D1 or non-residential institutional use.

Planners also want approval to be subject to planting conditions and minor negotiations on design.

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