Surgery appeals council decision

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A DOCTORS’ surgery on Moreton Hall has lodged an appeal against a council’s decision to refuse planning application to build an on-site pharmacy.

And last week marked the cut-off for anyone who wanted to have their say on the appeal.

In March, councillors from St Edmundsbury Borough Council rejected Mount Farm Surgery’s plans to convert part of its building in Lawson Place into a pharmacy, arguing that it would undermine an existing service in the same area.

It received a petition with 626 names against the proposal and one with 140 names in support of it.

Under planning rules, the surgery had six months to lodge an appeal against the council’s decision, which it did in May by making written representations to the Department for Communities and Local Government, in Bristol.

It proposes to convert a 30sqm area in the surgery – currently used as a waiting area and examination room – into a pharmacy that would open for 100 hours a week and provide ‘the same customer service as other local pharmacies including delivery of medication to patient’s homes’.

The council’s decision to reject the application went against the recommendations of its officers who said that the small scale nature of the new pharmacy would not adversely impact on nearby retailers.

But bosses at Croasdales, in nearby Tallou Court, said that it would put their business at risk of closure.

“You can’t just survive on the over-the-counter medicines, without the prescriptions – I don’t know how we’d survive,” said pharmacy manager Ali Curd, adding that the extra services the chemist currently offered could be lost to the community if it was forced to close, including its weight loss programme, food intolerance and cholesterol testing, bone density screening, flu vaccinations and blood pressure monitoring.

Nick Cooper, who runs Croasdales, said: “I would have thought that the opinions of local councillors and the community would have been enough to convince the doctors that it’s not what the community wanted.

“It (the appeal) is concerning but I do believe that the council recently came to the right decision and I think that it will be vindicated by the decision of the appeal authority.”