Parking fears over new doctors surgery site

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A NEW Leigh doctors surgery surgery complex is going ahead despite neighbours fears about traffic congestion.

Councillors heard that the existing Leigh Family Practice in an end terraced house was recently judged “no longer fit for purpose” by the Care Quality Commission and the fight for new accommodation had been strongly backed by patients and staff.

Wigan’s development committee, which had adjourned the application so that council members could visit the proposed new site in Wigan Road, heard claims from neighbours that they fear the replacement will create parking problems, increased noise and a loss of their privacy.

Council Leader Lord Smith and Mayor of Wigan Coun Myra Whiteside had jointly proposed a site visit following pleas from residents.

The new medical centre is a two-storey building and pharmacy with landscaping that will be built in the grounds of a demolished bungalow.

However the proposal includes just seven off-street parking spaces (the maximum standard is 11 spaces)

After hearing that the practice has six staff itself they decided to apply a condition that the spaces be reserved for patients and medical staff requested to park in the bays at the nearby Marsh Playing Fields.

Dr Neil Forsdyke, who is based at the practice, told the committee that the new site had been the result of a three-year-long search.

He said the existing surgery had come to the end of its useful life.

And Dr Forsdyke added that the new location was served by two bus routes rather than the single one currently bringing patients to the present centre and this would allow far more to use public transport to access GP services.

Medical staff would also be taking steps to reduce their car use.

Mayor of Wigan Coun Whiteside said: “We are not opposed to the siting of this medical centre and are pleased that the amenity is being considered to stay in the area.

“However we do have some concerns with the plans.

“The proposed entrance to the car park is in Hill Crest Avenue which is a narrow estate road and we are also concerned that the car park is inadequate for the number of visitors.”

Four residents had formally objected to the scheme ... compared with a 93 signature strong petition of support.

Resident Malcolm Prescott, who appeared before councillors as objector’s witness, said that he had lived happily in Hillcrest Avenue for more than 40 years.

But now feared that the quality of life for residents would be destroyed by patients and medical staff blocking drive ways as they struggle to find somewhere to park.

He said: “The entrance and exit is very close to my driveway and if the road is double parked by patients – it is only 18 feet six inches wide – it is going to cause real problems. When they say that the current surgery has no parking that just isn’t correct because there is a large council car park opposite which patients use.

“If they could resolve the worries we have about parking we would have no objections to the GP practice going ahead.”