Crunch decision due over Norwich walk-in centre, as council officers say switch is ‘of upmost importance’
- Credit: copyright: Archant 2014
A crunch decision over the future of Norwich's hugely popular walk-in centre will be made this week, as crucial discussions take place into whether it can move to a new home.
And officers at Norwich City Council will this week urge councillors to allow the switch, saying it is considered of 'upmost importance' that it remains in the city centre.
The future of the Timber Hill Health Centre was thrown into doubt earlier this year after Castle Mal's owners got planning permission for a restaurant quarter where the centre is based.
Mall bosses suggested the GP surgery and walk-in centre could be moved into an empty shop unit on level two. But Norwich Practices Ltd, which runs the health centre, lodged plans to move to nearby Rouen House, in Rouen Road.
Norwich City Council's planning committee will meet this Thursday to decide whether to grant permission.
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Steve Bloomfield, business manager for Norwich Practices Ltd, said: 'Everybody is working very hard, but the cost of putting a health centre together is very high and there's a number of issues.
'There's a number of issues for the landlords, for us as a practice and for NHS England and we just need to bring all that together.
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'I would very much hope that, should we get planning permission, we would be able to make an announcement, but it depends on those issues being resolved.
'If we don't get planning permission, that would kill it. But, if we do, that could be the final piece of the jigsaw which means everything else falls into place.'
Council officers are recommending that councillors grant approval, but neighbours and civic watchdog the Norwich Society have expressed concerns about access and parking.
The Norwich Society said: 'We are concerned about such items as access, dropping-off points and servicing of the proposals.
'These must be of high importance in this tight area and there is no mention of how these would be treated in the change of use application.'
However, in the report which will come before councillors at Thursday's meeting at City Hall, council officers state that there are a number of car parks nearby.
They say a condition could be attached to permission requiring the submission and formal agreement of a travel plan on how the centre would provide information to staff and customers on sustainable travel.
And they say: 'It is considered that the proposed change of use from offices to a health centre, comprising doctors' surgery and walk-in centre, is acceptable. The relocation of the health facility within the city centre is considered to be of upmost importance in serving the local population.'
• Would you be happy with the walk-in centre's move? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.