First class service

SIR - Re Sidmouth Health Centre Bursting at the Seams

I must agree one hundred per cent with the statements in your front page report in the Herald, May 20, that our GPs are providing a first class service from the totally inadequate and dilapidated buildings in Blackmore Drive.

It is a sad reflection on the East Devon District Council and the Planning Department; in particular, that so little, if any, consideration has been given to this essential service, when agreeing to extensive developments in Sidmouth.

As stated in a supplementary article on page five of the same issue:- In granting Planning Permission for the extensive housing development currently taking place at Stowford Rise, it is obvious that the Planning Department gave no consideration to the impact that the large increase in the local population would have on the already overstretched medical facilities in the area.

This was an opportunity missed, to have insisted on the requirement to provide for ‘Planning Gain’ in the form of a financial contribution from the developer towards the cost of additional medical facilities as a condition of granting Planning permission.

The East Devon District Council is currently discussing with Developers schemes for the redevelopment of the Fortfield Hotel Site.

I wholeheartedly agree with the suggestion that if; ultimately, planning permission is granted for the development, a substantial percentage of the �1.5m ‘Planning Gain’ offer should be given towards the improvement to the medical facilities in Sidmouth.

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Furthermore, it should be a condition that such contribution be made up-front at the time of a consent being granted and not a promise of payment when the development is completed.

It has been rumoured that EDDC are considering relocating their offices and offering the Knowle Site for sale as residential development.

I believe that it is time that the district council make it their policy that no consideration will be given to further residential development in the Sidmouth area until such time as adequate medical facilities (and other essential services) are available in the immediate vicinity.

The time has come for action. Discussion has been going on now for the past 10 years about the necessity to expand the medical centre and things are no further on than when the requirements were first raised.

The redevelopment or relocation of the health centre has become a necessity. Whilst there are many constraints on the proposals, viable options are possible.

The time has come for the residents and, therefore, patients of Sidmouth and district to put pressure on the Local, Town, District, and County Councilors to support this essential provision for the town.

If sufficient pressure is put upon the councillors that they realise it could affect the voting and, therefore, their seat, at the next local elections, they will soon rally round and provide the necessary backing required for the provision to become a reality.

As a recently retired architect, I would be more than happy to offer my time and experience to the doctors and supporting groups in any way that may help to progress the proposals for relocation of the Health Centre or for the redevelopment on the existing site.

Ian M Scott

19 Sidvale Close, Sidford