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Update: Norwich’s Timber Hill walk-in centre set for move, after councillors grant permission for Castle Mall restaurant quarter

The Timber Hill entrance to Castle Mall.
 Photo: Simon Finlay

The Timber Hill entrance to Castle Mall. Photo: Simon Finlay

The under-threat Timber Hill Health Centre in Norwich’s Castle Mall looks set to move, after city councillors agreed changes which will pave the way for the switch.

However, it remains unclear whether the centre, which includes a walk-in centre and GP services, will move to another spot in the Castle Mall.

The lease for the £2m walk-in centre, which opened in the Castle Mall in July 2009, has not been renewed and is due to run out in September.

InfraRed, the owners of Castle Mall, had offered a new home for the centre on a lower level of the mall, with a new restaurant quarter created where the centre is currently based.

Norwich Practices Ltd, which runs the health centre, including a walk-in centre and GP surgery, had opposed the switch.

And NHS England had been looking at alternative sites in the city centre for a walk-in centre.

But, at today’s meeting of Norwich City Council’s planning committee, there was an eleventh hour announcement that Norwich Practices Ltd had withdrawn their objection to plans which would see the health centre make way for restaurants and for a unit in level 2 to be earmarked for use as a health centre.

Steve Bloomfield, business manager, said in a note submitted to the city council: “I am writing, on behalf of Norwich Practices Ltd, to confirm that, having had further discussions with InfraRed, we have, subject to finalising the details, been able to agree terms which would allow us time for a phased withdrawal of the Timber Hill Health Centre to allow a new health centre to be opened at another site in the city centre.

“We, therefore wish to withdraw all our objections to the plan to redevelop the site and are prepared to support both applications.”

He then told the committee he would not want councillors to “block off” the option of moving to the alternative unit in the Castle Mall, but said there were other options as well.

A representative for InfraRed said a 10-year lease had been offered for the health centre on a lower level and that the refit would be at no cost to the public purse.

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the Timber Hill Health Centre to remain in Castle Mall.

Norwich City Council officers had recommended on planning grounds there is no reason to refuse the applications.

And business bosses said the plan to put restaurants where the centre is currently based would be a huge boost for the city centre.

Councillors granted permission for the changes.

Four members of the committee withdrew from the vote after saying they had already formed a ‘prejudicial’ view, while a call to defer making a decision was defeated on the casting vote of chairman Ralph Gayton.

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