How plans for Weston's £3.2million health centre took shape

Weston Rugby Club redevelopment

Health centre plans. - Credit: Studio Hive

A vacant department store, industrial estates, a former court and the roof of the Sovereign Shopping Centre were all discounted as sites for Weston’s new £3.2million health centre. 

After a search that took more than a year, the state-of-art facility is set to be part of the Weston Rugby Club redevelopment. 

Pier Health will consult the Graham Road surgery’s 11,700 patients about closing it once the new building is completed in spring 2023. 

What options were considered?

After securing the funding in 2019, the Bristol, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset clinical commissioning group considered an initial shortlist of sites but all of them had to be discounted. 

The preferred option had been the former TJ Hughes building, set to be converted into shops and flats, but it proved unaffordable. 

Also on the cards were various options for the council-owned Sovereign Shopping Centre, including a new build on the rooftop car park, but there were concerns about ambulance access and that a new dedicated lift would have to be built.

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Now the council has new plans for the building, including work spaces, a bike cafe and events on the roof. 

Shops in Dolphin Square were put forward but later withdrawn after a tenant was found, and owner North Somerset Council said it was exploring other options for the magistrates court so it could no longer offer it to the CCG. It went back to the drawing board. 

The CCG considered the vacant M&S shop but was unable to make a financially viable business case to the council’s executive. 
It also looked at the former Methodist church next to the court that is being considered for disposal but had concerns about securing planning permission.

How did the rugby club come out on top? 
Then Studio Hive entered the fray putting forward its Weston Rugby Club development, which will feature commercial units and 200 homes, and the council also wants to build a school. 

The annual rent for the GPs would be in line with what they currently pay for the Graham Road and Clarence Park premises. 
The club scored 82.5 out of a possible 100 points, way ahead of the Sovereign Shopping Centre’s 47.5. 

CCG area director Colin Bradbury said in a report to the council’s health overview and scrutiny panel meeting: “One of the attractions to the rugby club option is that it was already a major local regeneration project, including plans for new housing, shops and a school. 

“The building of a state-of-the-art new GP surgery can only increase the chances of the wider regeneration project succeeding.”

Building work is expected to start next spring and be finished in spring 2023. 
The new health centre is hoped to attract doctors to Weston and retain their skills to make primary care in the town more sustainable. 

What will happen to the Graham Road surgery? 
The practice took on Clarence Park surgery’s 5,000 patients after it closed in 2019. 
But the Graham Road premises – originally built as a semi-detached house in 1854 – are 'not fit for purpose in the long term'.
Patients will be consulted this summer on its proposed closure.

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