Opinion divided on proposed new location for GP surgery in Whitley Bay

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A proposed new GP practice in Whitley Bay has divided opinion as a council decision on the plans looms closer.

Whitley Bay locals are at loggerheads over the proposed relocation of Beaumont Park GP surgery at Hepscott Drive to open land on Newsteads Drive, 480 metres away.

A new surgery has been proposed as the current building is “no longer fit for purpose.”

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However, there is some opposition to the loss of open land and fears of increased traffic in the area given the clinic’s proximity to a large Sainsbury’s supermarket.

Land at Newsteads Drive where the proposed GP surgery could be built. (Photo by LDRS)Land at Newsteads Drive where the proposed GP surgery could be built. (Photo by LDRS)
Land at Newsteads Drive where the proposed GP surgery could be built. (Photo by LDRS)

North Tyneside Council has recorded 451 objections to 447 comments of support on its online planning portal. In addition, a petition in opposition has amassed 436 signatures, whereas 362 individual letters of support have also been submitted to the local authority.

One supporter took to the council’s planning portal and said: “This is a good idea. It uses minimal green space in a great, convenient location. As a patient of the practice, the practice is too small and there are not enough doctors. This will attract more to the area. More doctors equals more treatments.”

An objector, however, rebutted: “This site should be retained as open space/amenity land as it has been for over 30 years. Allowing such development will set a dangerous precedent for other development on open and amenity land.”

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A council report states the current surgery is 70% undersized by current NHS design standards which is “prohibitive” for the treatment of patients.

Plans to expand the current premises were found to be unviable and even if complete would not provide enough space.

NHS North East and Cumbria Integrated Care Board has written to the local authority to support the plans claiming the loss of green space will be outweighed by the updated healthcare facility.

Documents from the local authority have also stated the proposed clinic will only take up 16% of open space at Newsteads Drive and there are no plans for further developments.

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Plans to relocate the practice to Newsteads Drive were rejected by the council last year but the council reconsidered its position after the practice closed its patient list as a result of its failed bid to move.

Fears grew within the local authority that the contract to operate the practice could be returned, leaving 6,000 people without a GP.

North Tyneside Council’s planning committee will meet next week on December 12 to reconsider the application.

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