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Chilham doctors surgery to close down after plans for 10 homes outside Canterbury approved


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Doctors have made the “heartbreaking” decision to close a GP surgery on the outskirts of Canterbury.

Bosses at the practice in Chilham have applied to the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to shut down the branch following the approval of controversial plans for 10 homes on neighbouring land.

Chilham Surgery is to shut down
Chilham Surgery is to shut down

It will mean patients having to travel two miles out of the village to see a GP.

The “extremely difficult” choice has been made due to the impending construction of a housing complex on the lawn grounds of the nearby Harvest House, off Branch Road.

The long-held proposals were green-lit this month by Ashford Borough Council at the third time of asking - paving the way for construction work on the country homes to begin.

But those in charge of the surgery say the scale of the development is too large, and claim they will no longer be able to “operate safely” as a result of the surrounding new-builds.

They point the finger at a lack of sufficient parking, and fear the development will not be safe for GP patients accessing or leaving the site.

Branch Road is accessed of the A28. The homes would be in the distance on the left
Branch Road is accessed of the A28. The homes would be in the distance on the left
How the homes are set to look (50200600)
How the homes are set to look (50200600)

The closure will see the village without a surgery for the first time in more than 100 years.

It is understood Chilham has had a GP practice since 1920.

In a statement released on Monday, Dr Dale Kinnersley, who has been at the helm of the surgery for 25 years, said: “Following the recent unanimous decision to allow the housing development around Chilham Surgery, we have had to make the extremely difficult and heartbreaking decision to apply to the local CCG to close our branch.

“The proposed development will severely impact on us being able to continue to provide a safe and effective patient service from the building.”

Dozens of villagers lodged objections against the plans, and hundreds signed a petition launched to protect the surgery.

Branch Road, as seen from the Chilham end
Branch Road, as seen from the Chilham end

But councillors all agreed to rubber-stamp the project, despite Dr Kinnersley’s concerns over “dangerous parking arrangements”.

Cllr Noel Ovenden said: “This is the third time this committee has seen this application. I don’t think we should keep kicking applications down the road.

“No application is ever perfect in regards to everybody.

“I don’t believe these two [the homes and GP practice] cannot co-exist together.

“I understand the doctor’s surgery threat, but the applicant has gone far enough.”

The tenth house is the largest of the properties, with five bedrooms. Picture: Lee Evans Partnership
The tenth house is the largest of the properties, with five bedrooms. Picture: Lee Evans Partnership

The site in question is in the borough council’s Local Plan, and in their proposals, developers fulfilled the authority’s requirements to provide a minimum of five GP parking spaces.

But bosses at the surgery have decided they can longer operate at the site in Branch Road - a route regularly used as a rat-run by drivers in the morning trying to avoid queues at the A28 junction.

Fears were lodged over a rise in accidents and a lack of pedestrian safety, yet KCC Highways raised no concerns.

Dr Kinnersley says that once the practice closes down, Chilham patients will be able to use the Old School Surgery, in Chartham.

“We understand that this will be an unwelcome change for many of you, and the decision was not made without a great deal of consideration regarding patient safety and unfortunately we are unable to find a viable alternative,” he said.

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