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MP Tracey Crouch calls 'urgent' meeting over missing GP surgery at Peters Village in Wouldham

An MP has stepped into a row over a missing doctor's surgery which patients have been waiting six years for.

Chatham and Aylesford's Tracey Crouch has called on property developer Trenport to deliver the new medical centre at Peters Village in Wouldham or a new site will be sought.

Tracey Crouch MP: Something must be done
Tracey Crouch MP: Something must be done

The Tory politician called an urgent meeting of stakeholders this week after learning the Phoenix Surgery, which had been due to move onto the site, was over-subscribed and had to turn away new patients at its existing surgery in Bell Lane, Burham, as well as its small satellite surgery in Mackenders Lane, Eccles.

Construction at Peters Village began in 2017 and is already well on the path to delivering 1,000 new homes.

Ms Crouch said: "There has been concern about the delay in the delivery of the new medical practice in Peters Village for a long time.

"This has become even more urgent since the local Phoenix practice has reached its capacity, and quite understandably had to close its list.

"Last summer I wrote to Trenport about the delay and was assured that conversations were ongoing.

The empty plot in need of a medical centre at Peters Village, Wouldham
The empty plot in need of a medical centre at Peters Village, Wouldham

"However, it is clear matters have stalled, so I have had an urgent meeting with the Integrated Care Board (ICB) and the planning authority (TMBC) to make it clear I believe this to be an urgent matter which needs to see a clear solution set out at the earliest opportunity."

The MP added: "If Trenport is unwilling to release a site, then it is my view, and I know that of the borough council too, that an alternative site for Phoenix should be sought for the practice's patients across the four expanding villages of Eccles, Burham, Peters Village and Wouldham."

She said she would oppose any further development in the area until the promised infrastructure was in place first.

Tonbridge and Malling council leader Cllr Matt Boughton said: "The issue with GP access around Eccles, Burham and Peters Village is particularly pressing.

"As Tracey rightly says, Phoenix closing their list has highlighted the need for a new surgery even more.

An artist's impression of the proposed Peters Village medical centre
An artist's impression of the proposed Peters Village medical centre

"The existing facilities in Burham and Eccles are not suitable for expansion. Therefore it is readily accepted there needs to be a new site. Indeed this was accepted back in 2006 when the original planning application for Peters Village had this in the Section 106 agreement.

He said: "Since then, it has allocated a site for a GP surgery but it is not fully built and not inhabitable. This is deeply frustrating for everyone as the issues are critical for residents in the area.

"Therefore TMBC, the ICB, Phoenix and Tracey are all working together to find a new location if Trenport are unwilling to provide this one, as we are at capacity.

"It is very complex in terms of some of the agreements, but none of that is very satisfactory for residents and that is why we are doing everything we can to find an alternative solution that doesn’t rely on Trenport.

"We will work with everyone involved to make sure this is delivered as quickly as possible."

Provision for a doctor's surgery was one of the planning promises made when Trenport won permission for its 1,000-home development at Peters Village back in 2006.

TMBC council leader Matt Boughton said the situation is "deeply frustrating"
TMBC council leader Matt Boughton said the situation is "deeply frustrating"

Hundreds of homes have already been built, but although the property developer has delivered on other promises, such as the construction of a new bridge over the River Medway, a community centre and more recently the opening of a Co-op store on the estate, the promised GP surgery is still missing.

The Phoenix Practice has planning permission approved for a two-storey building with nine consulting rooms, supported by a 20-place car park, but its developers, Assura, have been unable to persuade Trenport to release the designated land.

Ward councillor Roger Dalton (Con) told Wouldham Parish Council the delay now seemed to stem from price. He believes Trenport was asking more for the land than the Integrated Care Board (ICB) was willing to pay.

It is understood that under the terms of the planning agreement, Trenport had been required to provide land for a surgery, but was not required to build the surgery itself nor gift the land.

A Trenport spokesman said: "There is no agreement with the NHS to buy the land and no offer has ever been received from the NHS for the land.

Cllr Roger Dalton (Con) claims price issues are slowing down the development
Cllr Roger Dalton (Con) claims price issues are slowing down the development

"The land has been reserved by Trenport for the medical centre and we are currently in discussions with the NHS about its construction and delivery.

"We recognise the importance of the medical centre for local communities, and a Section 106 financial contribution has been agreed with the NHS, which will fund its delivery. This money will be paid by Trenport to the NHS to fund the construction and delivery of the medical centre."

The matter is being closely followed by residents in nearby Eccles, where Trenport has a second large development this time for 950 homes – planned for a site it is calling Bushey Wood.

There it is promising to provide replacement allotments, a replacement school, new playing fields and a village hub.

The Bushey Wood scheme can be viewed on the TMBC website under application number 22/00113.

It has attracted 820 letters of objection, with one resident, Terry Johnson, saying: "Until Trenport delivers on its promises at Peters Village, how can we trust anything they say about Bushey Wood?"

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