REFUSED: Bid to turn Exmouth surgery - with thousands of patients on its list - into homes is thrown out
PUBLISHED: 11:38 10 January 2020
A bid to transform an Exmouth GP surgery into homes has been knocked down by district planners - who say the proposals would 'harm' the community and employment opportunities.
Plans were submitted last year to change the use of Raleigh Surgery, in Pines Road, into two homes.
The surgery has more than 4,000 patients on its books, but is run solely by GP Karen Knight.
The application initially sparked concerns in the community from patients, but the surgery was quick to allay fears by explaining its purpose.
In a statement, the surgery said it was making preparations in case it needs to move to bigger premises or 'there is ill health among the management team'.
It said: "We have submitted a planning permission application in order to provide us with a contingency plan in the future."
However, the proposal, which received six letters of objection from the public, has been refused by planning officers at East Devon District Council.
A refusal notice said 'insufficient evidence' was provided to satisfactorily demonstrate that the site has been marketed and fully explored for continued employment and/or community use.
The notice added: "It has not been adequately demonstrated that there is a surplus of employment or community land or provision in the locality.
"As such, the proposed development would result in the loss of medical facilities, which would not be replaced by the proposal, and the loss of an employment and community site which would harm social or community gathering and employment opportunities in the area."
Planning officers also noted their concerns with the amount of private, useable amenity space being offered to one of the proposed dwellings.
They said they considered the space to be 'insufficient' to serve a three bedroom dwelling, which would lead to 'substandard living conditions' for future occupiers.
The applicant previously revealed that the surgery has struggled to attract new partners to the practice, which does not dispense medication because of an existing pharmacy close to Raleigh Surgery.
The plans stated Exmouth's four existing GP surgeries could 'easily absorb' the patients.