Former Brighton doctors’ surgery will not be replaced if planners agree

A former doctors’ surgery in Brighton will not be replaced if planners agree to a request from the site’s owner.

Heath Hill Student Developments wants to build 24 student bedrooms on the site of the Willow House surgery, in Heath Hill Avenue, Bevendean.

The company was granted planning permission after an appeal, with the planning inspector Stephen Papworth saying that a proposed replacement surgery had given “significant weight” to the appeal.

The surgery closed in September 2016 and was demolished shortly afterwards.

Health chiefs have since indicated that they have no plans to commission a new surgery at or near the site.

Heath Hill Student Developments was also required to enter into a management agreement with either Brighton University or Sussex University.

Both have since started building thousands of student bedrooms themselves and have told Heath Hill Student Developments that they were not looking to engage with private providers at the moment.

The company, started by property developer John Talbot, 68, from the Isle of Man, and the site’s previous owner, another property developer Bill Packham, have spent 15 years working on their student flats plans.

Heath Hill Student Developments has since run into financial trouble and went into receivership just over a year ago.

The receivers, Alistair Wright and Simon Hunt, from Savills, have applied to Brighton and Hove City Council for a “deed of variation”.

They want the requirement to include a surgery to be lifted and a less restrictive deal over where students are studying and who can manage the proposed block.

They are due to find out next week whether councillors support their requests when the council’s Planning Committee holds a virtual meeting.

The Willow House surgery in Bevendean has since been demolished

A report to the committee said: “A letter from the clinical commissioning group (CCG) has been provided which indicates that the closure of the surgery has not resulted in a dispersal pressures as this area of the city is well serviced by GP practices and branch surgeries.

“Furthermore, the CCG letter confirms that there is no demand for an additional surgery at this site and there are no plans to commission additional health services in the vicinity of the site.

“Given the fact that the surgery has been demolished for over four years with no harmful impact of the surrounding area, the removal of the requirement for a temporary replacement surgery is considered acceptable.”

In addition, the Preston Barracks project, in Lewes Road, Brighton, is expected to include space for two doctors’ surgeries.

The new health centre is planned to include 13 consulting and treatment rooms and an onsite pharmacy.

The report also said: “The developer also seeks to remove the restrictions of occupation and management of the student accommodation to the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex.

“The developer’s covering letter states that the wording allows for limited flexibility and does not take account of other education establishments within the city.

“The developer has also provided letters from both the University of Brighton and the University of Sussex, both of which indicate that neither university would currently be looking take on this site.”

But the application refers to the council’s own figures saying that there remains a shortage of purpose-built student housing.

Neighbours are understood to have concerns about noise and anti-social behaviour in student properties in the area, with a Halloween party in nearby Norwich Drive halted by the police in the autumn.

Officials support the request by Heath Hill Student Developments and the Planning Committee is due to give its verdict next Wednesday (10 February). The meeting, starting at 2pm, is scheduled to be webcast on the council’s website.

  1. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    I suspect that, as is usually the case here, the CCG or whoever thinks that, because the people who used this surgery have been signed up at other surgeries, then all is well. That does not mean that those affected are happy about the enforced move or find the new surgery convenient. All of this just gets imposed on people by out-of-touch and uncaring medical/council bureaucrats. I was a patient at Eaton Place in Kemp Town, which was just about accessible on foot at the time. It closed down and we all got transferred elsewhere, which required a bus trip. I have been here a long time, but in my previous town/abode there were several surgeries within short walking distance without needing transport. So I suggest that the planners defer their decision about scrapping the new temporary surgery and actually reach out to the former patients and ask them how happy they are with their new enforced arrangements. No hope that this would actually happen in this dysfunctional place, but I daresay that many residents are totally fed-up with the CCG’s and council’s out-of-touch attitude towards the more vulnerable residents. Would be nice if anyone actually asked the views of the people affected and, if they did, considered them properly. It doesn’t happen here.

  2. Jean Constable Reply

    Whilst I understand the site needs to be developed, Bevendean certainly doesn’t need more student accommodation, my understanding is that HMO’s have been banned in the area – well this will still be very similar – if a surgery is not needed then surely something else that serves the community can be put there – maybe an NHS dentist ? With family housing above – it’s the ideal position for families opposite the park and close to school – no more student accommodation please……..

  3. fed-up with brighton politics Reply

    Quite right, Jean. Anything that would serve the actual resident community is to be welcomed, but it never happens. Unfortunately, students’ accommodation is the Holy Grail in Brighton and the Greens in particular are generally happy about this, because the students are their voters to quite an extent. The Universities keep on expanding their intake, without having the accommodation for them, and the proper community is expected to suffer the consequences. As we do.

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