A LEADING Pershore councillor has criticised planners for being more concerned about ‘bats and trees’ rather than local residents as plans to extend Abbottswood are unanimously backed.
Coun Charles Tucker was left disappointed as all 14 councillors on Wychavon’s Planning Committee approved Abbottswood Medical Centre plans for four new consultation rooms and more car parking spaces.
However, the Pershore councillor was hoping the decision would have been deferred to give more time for campaigners to put pressure on NHS Property Services to give more land to the doctor’s surgery.
The rest of the site is being sold to a retirement home developer with plans for a 24 bed apartment complex to be built on the old Cottage Hospital, with concerns it will prevent the surgery from expanding any further in the future.
Coun Tucker said: “I was obviously disappointed about the decision. The Planners seemed more concerned about the impact on bats and trees than on the local residents.
“Planning now has lost all its positive attributes and has become a purely reactive process.
“Only a few years ago Wychavon would have produced a “design brief” for such a sensitive site. This would have given guidance on how the site should be developed and the key issues that would need to be resolved.
“Any application would have to meet those guidelines, this would have included proper consideration of the traffic generated.
Coun Tucker is now hoping Pershore’s MP Harriett Baldwin will intervene over the issue by putting pressure on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
“The traffic issues at Abbotswood can’t be solved now unless the NHS relents and gives the Surgery more land.
“Residents are now relying on MP Harriett Baldwin getting the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to intervene and force NHS Property Services to do this,” he added.
Mrs Baldwin said: “A number of constituents have contacted me about the site of the old Pershore hospital. Everyone is keen to see the site redeveloped and for the Abbottswood Medical Practice to have room to expand.
“A number of planning questions have been raised which have been passed onto the relevant planning authority and questions to NHS property services, which have been sent to Jeremy Hunt.”