Doctors bid to stay put

DOCTORS at Mirfield Health Centre say they will stay at their current site – if plans to extend into Ings Grove Park are approved.

A recent offer of former industrial land off Newgate, made by Darren Smith Builders with the backing of the town’s councillors, has been deemed unsuitable because of sloping access and traffic congestion.

Plans for the 1.3 acre site, behind St Paul’s Church and Lidl supermarket, showing a 20,000 sq ft centre with 40 car parking spaces, have already been presented to the town council.

Councillors are preparing to apply for outline planning permission, or permission in principle, for the site and have invited a representative from the health centre to attend their monthly planning meeting on Tuesday.

Coun Martyn Bolt said: “This brownfield site is a blank canvas. It’s got a waterfront setting, pedestrian access, and we couldn’t get much closer to the town centre. Darren Smith has done a lot of homework on this already.”

But Mirfield GP Dr Stephen Warner said a patient survey carried out by the health centre showed the majority of the centre’s patients wanted the health centre to be extended into Ings Grove Park.

He said: “We feel we are being pushed in a direction we don’t feel is in the interests of our patients. In the various correspondence our patients have had with us since it all blew up about the showground, the majority feel extending into Ings Grove Park would be the best option.

“Their wishes are for level access and ease of access from public transport.”

Dr Warner said he had been aware of the Newgate site since last year: “My main concern is the slope to the road, which is fine for our more able bodied patients but some of our more infirm patients might struggle with the hill. The junction there is already very busy with cars.

“Also the plans showed the health centre on three levels but we really want to keep clinical services on one level. In my experience there’s always problems with lifts – they break down and people don’t like using them.”

He added he had never been keen on using a greenfield site for the new centre but there had always been access problems with the brownfield sites available in the town.

Dr Warner and the other GPs at the health centre are keen to move forward with proposals as they are struggling to cope with the lack of space in the current centre and have approached the planning department with their plans.

Coun Bolt added he was concerned about the interest developers were taking into the town’s green spaces.

He said: “We have either got to use it or lose it. We need to get the plans out and say ‘are there any factors limiting the use of parks?’ If we do that we won’t get developers eyeing up our playing fields and saying ‘you only get one man and his dog walking on it’.

“We have got to make sure people don’t get that impression.”