New medical centre for Bexhill ‘is realisation of a long dream’

Plans which could lead to a new medical centre being built in Bexhill have gained the support of Rother council leaders.

Tuesday, 12th January 2021, 11:44 am
View of the proposed site from Beeching Road (photo from Google Maps Street View)

On Monday (January 11), Rother District Council cabinet members approved proposals to lease land at Wainwright Road to a group planning to build a medical centre on the site. 

The land – which forms part of the former Sharwood factory site – is currently being used, on a temporary basis, as a COVID-19 testing centre.

Speaking at the meeting, cabinet member for economic development and regeneration Christine Bayliss (Lab) said: “This is a fantastic project. I have been following this quite closely [and] it will be a real enhancement to central ward. 

“It will be a tremendous asset to the town centre and also I do believe that, while you’ve got three surgeries merging into the one, there will be additional facilities there which could help us achieve our objectives around regeneration.”

If built, the medical centre would be intended to offer larger and more modern premises for the Collington, Sidley and Sea Road surgeries. 

Previously the Collington and Sea Road surgeries had been planning to open a new medical centre in place of St Barnabus Church in Sea Road.

However, the council says this scheme stalled due to delays in securing the necessary approvals from the Diocese of Chichester and the developer approached the council to see what alternatives may be open to them.

At the same time, the council was also approached by the GP practice operating Sidley surgery regarding its future requirements. The practice would maintain its premises in Sidley, with the new space replacing its branch surgery in Albert Road.

The decision received cross-party support, with Conservative councillor John Barnes giving his support. 

Cllr Barnes said: “It is the realisation of a long dream. I remember when I was chairman of the primary care trust, we were looking for ways to replace both Albert Road and Collington.

“This is actually the future, because we are trying to strengthen the primary care end, to try and keep people out of hospital, and develop more and more services at that level.  We shall need larger premises, better premises and we will need, therefore, to develop medical centres.” 

He added: “I am grateful we are actually facilitating this and it will make a very steady if small income for us. 

“But I would encourage us to look ahead and see whether we ought not to do what the developer is doing here, because we could earn a larger income and facilitate the primary care revolution elsewhere if we were to play an even more active part than we are here.”

The GPs involved in the proposals and are working with developer Medical Centre Developments Ltd.

It is proposed that Medical Centre Developments Ltd will take a ground lease for the site and develop a new surgery and pharmacy. On completion the developer will receive a rent from the GP practices, based on a formula approved by the East Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). 

While cabinet members agreed the granting of a lease in principle, council officers say a full lease would not come into effect until planning permission and funding for the project has been agreed.

The lease would also depend on investigations showing no serious adverse ground conditions or contamination on site.