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Ivy Bower, Greenhithe and Elmdene patients could be without a GP within 12 months if Steele Avenue super surgery is not built soon

More than 13,000 patients could be without a doctors’ surgery within a year if plans to build a super surgery are not given the green light.

Three surgeries in Greenhithe have received notices of eviction or been told their leases will be not renewed after 12 months, according to planning documents submitted to Dartford council.

The new super surgery planned for Steele Avenue in Greenhithe
The new super surgery planned for Steele Avenue in Greenhithe

The practices, run by Swanscombe and Bean Partnership and Temple Hill Group, were hoping to find a new home in a super surgery planned for Steele Avenue in Greenhithe.

But opposition has proved a stumbling block and the surgeries have been warned if they do not find new premises with a year, patients could be forced to travel further afield for their medical care.

Greenhithe Surgery in London Road, Greenhithe, has been branded “non CQC compliant” and been given a notice of intention to evict – meaning its 4,000 patients would need to look for a new practice.

Elmdene Surgery in London Road, Stone, was rated inadequate by the CQC and been told its lease will not be renewed when it expires in 12 months, leaving 6,035 patients with no where to go.

Ivy Bower Surgery in Ivy Bower Close, Greenhithe has also been told its lease will not be renewed after 12 months meaning its 3,500 patients will need to travel to other locations in Swanscombe or Dartford to be seen by a doctor.

Ivy Bower Surgery in Greenhithe
Ivy Bower Surgery in Greenhithe

Opposition leader for Darford council Jonathon Hawkes is deeply worried about the hold-ups.

He said: “Ultimately we need more GP surgery capacity across the borough and particularly in that part of the borough which has been identified as an area for growth in the council’s plans for the next 10 years.

“I am deeply concerned that opposition to this is holding up the delivery of the surgery and what that could mean for thousands of people in the area.

“We would encourage that the plans are looked at carefully and people be looking to support the plans and not keep finding reasons not to build it.

“Maybe the plans are not perfect in every way and there could be improvements. So make those improvements, make compromises and go on and do it.

“We cannot keep holding up the provision of essential GPs surgeries.”

Labour leader Jonathon Hawkes
Labour leader Jonathon Hawkes

Amended plans have been submitted for public consultation in the hope they will be approved and building work can finally start.

Residents have until October 18 to have their say by clicking the link here.

Changes to the original plans include improved landscaping on the site such as hedge planting to soften the boundaries, the planting of additional trees and the creation of a public green space.

Concerns were raised about the undercroft parking so feature walls have been planned to hide the columns.

The parking area for the new super surgery
The parking area for the new super surgery

While traffic concerns have been addressed with the removal of one of the entrance sites so the property will only be accessible via Steele Avenue.

Plans for the new super surgery, which would serve 20,000 people and be be 1,684sq m in size, were first revealed in 2021.

It had been hoped the new medical centre would be built by September 2023, with a developer starting work on the site from August 2022 – but so far no work has begun.

The plans were postponed in January this year due to rising costs and “financial challenges”.

At the time, Dartford council leader Jeremy Kite said the decision made “no sense” and called for senior planners in the local health service to “stop kicking the ball down the road”.

Residents, councillors and local health leaders have all expressed their frustration over the stalled plans which are seen as desperately needed in an area with pressure on GP services due to rapid housing growth – including the 15,000 homes planned nearby at Ebbsfleet Garden City.

Elmdene Surgery in London Road, Stone
Elmdene Surgery in London Road, Stone

Despite this, the plans received a further knock-back in March when Stone Parish Council raised objections to the submitted plans including concerns about parking, the look of the surgery, the travel implications for patients and the possibility of attracting anti-social behaviour.

At the time, spokesman Steven Muzio said “members recognise there is a desperate need to expand the provision of medical services within the parish” but were unable to support the application in its current form.

In response to Stone Parish Council objecting to the plans, the Swanscombe and Bean Partnership and the Temple Hill Group said: “The consequence of delaying and/or not approving this development will result in two of the three practices (Greenhithe and Ivy Bower) being evicted within the next 12 months as there are no lease agreements in place. This will result in c. 7,500 patients having to travel to other service locations in Swanscombe or Dartford.

Greenhithe Surgery in London Road, Greenhithe
Greenhithe Surgery in London Road, Greenhithe

“The third site, Elmdene, has been visited by CQC who have conditionally approved the existing premises for temporary use but only on the assurance that a new centre is under development. If this is no longer the case, it is highly probable that this practice will be closed resulting in a further c.6,035 patients no longer having local access to GP services.”

Speaking this week Borough and Parish councillor David Mote, said: “It is in the best interests of Greenhithe and Swanscombe residents that they get this surgery built as soon as possible.”

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