The Warrens' fate could be decided next week

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a new health centre in West Wirral will be considered by planning officials next week.

The application for the development of a One Stop Primary care centre on the site of the former Warrens Nursery in Thingwall Road East, Thingwall, is expected to be recommended for approval at Wallasey Town Hall next Thursday night, September 10, subject to conditions.

If given the green light, surgeries in Irby, Thingwall and Heswall would relocate to the centre.

Petitions have been handed into the planning committee with the names of more than 700 people objecting to the scheme.

More than 600 letters have also been received in support of the plan.

Those against are concerned that the new development would be inaccessible to many, particularly the elderly, and lead to traffic congestion, pollution and loss of trees.

Those in favour say it would improve healthcare facilities.

As part of a consultation exercise, the partners and staff at West Wirral Group Practice conducted a survey, called 'Improving patient care' which was completed by 3,287 patients and residents.

It concluded that almost 90% of those responding were in favour of the new development going ahead.

In addition, the top priorities voiced were that people wanted a wider range of high quality health services in West Wirral.

Dr Alan Johnston, senior partner, said: "It is vital these views are heard at the forthcoming planning meeting.

"People in West Wirral are now one step closer to securing high quality health service accommodation.

"I would like to thank all those people - which amounted to 22.5% of our patients - for giving their time and views during the consultation period and also those people who have responded to our surveys and written letters highlighting the need for better accommodation.

"It has helped us to demonstrate to the decision makers the level of approval that really exists out there.

"It will make a significant improvement to the services we will be able to offer, especially to those with a disability. We are hopeful their views will be heard and help to secure better health premises for our patients in the future."

The scheme was originally rejected by planners in October 2007.

A subsequent consultation was held across Heswall, Pensby, Thingwall, Irby, Gayton and Barnston between November 2008 and February 2009, because the current GP surgeries in Irby, Thingwall and Heswall were not regarded as suitable for modern day health services.

Campaign group Friends of Arrowe Country Park is against the plan.

They say the proposed site is within greenbelt and is not classed as brownfield land. They fear that if the building went ahead, it would set a precedent for similar projects elsewhere.

The group's chairwoman Val Curtis said: "This has been a phoney consultation and a propaganda exercise from the start.

"The doctors have got all the money and have used the propaganda machine. On the night of the meeting they will have a professional to deliver their case.

"The councillors have to consider the planning laws. From the start, people have said the building of a health centre is a done deal, but I believe in the democratic process.

"I believe that democracy will work and that the councillors will not be swayed by the numbers of people turning up. They have to consider planning laws.

"I've always resented the fact that there has never been an independent study into this proposal.

"This is a campaign about the site and the reconfiguration of services. Patients don't want a relocated surgery, they just want improved surgery facilities.

"The real losers are going to be the elderly in Irby Village, who will have to travel to the new building."