Decision is due on doctor’s pharmacy

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A decision was due to be made yesterday on whether to allow a doctor’s surgery in Bury St Edmunds to turn part of its facility into a pharmacy.

But members of St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s Development Control Committee asked for the application, which concerns a change of use at Swan Surgery, in Northgate Business Park, to be deferred.

The application proposes using part of the surgery’s ground floor as a pharmacy, with a waiting area and consulting room.

It would be used in conjunction with the existing surgery but would function independently outside of surgery hours, from 8am-10pm Monday-Friday and from 8am-11pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays.

It would be owned and operated by SwanMed, the directors of which are partners of the surgery, and a pharmacist.

An application for a pharmacy on the same site was approved in 2009 but it was not introduced within the three year timescale given by planners.

A signature with the names and addresses of more than 200 people was received in support of the application, submitted in August, but since then a host of objections have been made.

These include perceived car parking problems, its proximity to a dance studio, proposed opening hours and the number of pharmacies in the town.

Concerns have also been raised about its potential to attract drug addicts to the area, the possibility of it increasing crime and fear of drug equipment being left in nearby streets.

The application states: “The issuing of methadone and associated equipment is part and parcel of the function of pharmacies and is only one element of this community based use, adjacent to the town centre. It would not be reasonable to refuse the application on these grounds.”

In an attempt to calm the concerns of neighbours, Dr Crispin Dunne, senior partner at the surgery, wrote a letter to the council’s planning officer.

It says: “I have been in discussion with CRI -Suffolk recovery service, the drug treatment experts who oversee drug therapy, and also with NHS Suffolk. I can confirm that neither has a current plan to expand the needle exchange and monitored dosing service in Bury. More specifically, there is no plan relating to the proposed pharmacy at the Swan Surgery.”

A council spokeswoman said that members asked for a decision to be deferred until after the consultation period for the application closes on Friday. It will now be brought to the next Development Control Committee meeting on December 6.