New medical centre takes a step nearer

Reverend Philip Venables (vicar of St Johns Church) with Nicola Benduce (property solicitor at Harrison Drury) and Andrew Taylorson (director at commercial property consultancy Eckersley).
Reverend Philip Venables (vicar of St Johns Church) with Nicola Benduce (property solicitor at Harrison Drury) and Andrew Taylorson (director at commercial property consultancy Eckersley).

A new Chorley medical centre has moved a step closer.

It follows the sale of a former parish hall to Chorley Council which will now look to develop plans for the much needed GP facility.

The deal to sell the parish hall at St John’s Church, Whittle-le-Woods, to the council has now been concluded.

The hall had been listed as an Asset of Community Value.

Proceeds from the sale of the hall will be used to carry out essential work at St John’s Church, Whittle-le-Woods and secure its long-term future.

But the site is set to become a new medical centre which will be welcome news for patients in the area.

The hall has historically been used as a children’s nursery and for casual groups associated with the church.

Philip Venables, vicar at St John’s, said: “The funds released can now be used for renovation work and improvements to St John’s Church.

“On both counts this is good news for our community as we desperately need an expanded surgery and the church will be better suited to serve the community in the decades to come.”

Earlier this year, Chorley Council provisionally agreed a deal to buy the site.

Details were revealed in a last-minute amendment to the authority’s budget which heard that the new facilty would replace the existing Whittle Surgery on Preston Road.

That building was described as being “unfit for purpose”.

The council has come to a so-called ‘heads of terms’ agreement with St John’s Church to buy a piece of land.

Site investigation work will start later this year to look at options for a new GP surgery after the council bought the land in May.

Councillors agreed to start the procurement process for the first stage of work on the project that would help alleviate pressures on the GP surgery in the village.

The move will be a joint venture between the council and the existing Whittle Surgery that needs to expand to meet demand.

Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “We know the increase in housebuilding imposed on us by Central Government is taking its toll on local services such as GP practices, dentists and schools and this is an example of where we can do our bit to help redress the balance.

“This part of the borough has seen more than its fair share of housing being built and I’ve heard first-hand the struggles that the surgery is having to keep up with demand.

“It is really important people get easy access to basic healthcare facilities like this and it is another example of us investing in our rural villages to benefit residents.”

The early stages of work will be to draw up proposals for a new GP surgery and beyond that there are aspirations to provide some community use on the site.

Practice Manager at Whittle Surgery, Keely Unsworth, said: “We have been looking at plans to create a new surgery for some time and we’re confident that we can make that a reality by working with the council.” The first stage of the development is to undertake surveys and design works to firm up construction costs and determine whether the scheme is financially viable.

Designs would then be drawn up and a planning application submitted before work could start on site.