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Gloucestershire Business News

Go ahead for 27 new homes and £5m surgery

A greenfield plan for a purpose-built £5m GP surgery and 27 homes on land at Tetbury will soon begin after Cotswold planners agreed to the controversial out-of-town scheme.

Stonewood Homes Ltd have been told by Cotswold District Council (CDC) that they can move ahead with the project which covers 5.9 acres of land – one acre of which will be dedicated as the new address for the relocated Phoenix Healthcare facility.

Stonewood, based in South Gloucestershire, said that the project will move ahead subject to a Section 106 agreement being finalised with CDC and the project will be of "high quality sustainable new homes, of which 11 will be affordable".

In a statement, Stonewood added: "The scheme, which features a mix of one, two, three, four and five bedroom homes follows the success of Stonewood's new home developments in nearby Great Somerford and Siddington, Cirencester. Featuring a fabric-first approach to construction, along with solar panels, air source heat pumps and electric car chargers, the homes will be both energy-efficient and beautifully designed."

Sam Smart, Stonewood managing director, added: "We've set a high benchmark for quality and sustainability in our existing developments. and Tetbury is the ideal location to further develop our reputation. We build beautiful homes that are market leading in energy efficiency and environmentally conscious construction methods. With increased pressures of energy costs and growing awareness of environmental issues we are seeing unprecedented customer demand for our homes and Tetbury is the ideal location to launch our next scheme."

Stonewood said it had worked with the Phoenix Health Group to secure NHS the required £5m funding for the provision of the new surgery as part of the scheme. The facility will incorporate a pharmacy and "will respond to Tetbury's growing population by providing more treatment rooms, better parking facilities and easier access to the building for those with limited mobility. The surgery will also be sustainable and is to be built to BREEAM Excellent standards."

Holly Simkiss, Stonewood planning manager, said the creative mixed-use nature of the development was a crucial factor in securing approval. 

She added: "Stonewood as a business is really focused on making a positive impact on communities so I'm delighted that we've achieved a planning consent that provides market leading homes but also enables the delivery of an essential new doctor's surgery."

With more than 25,000 patients on its books, the existing surgery operates from Tetbury's Long Street in premises which it has stated are "no longer fit for purpose".

More than 70 local residents filed objections to the bid, emphasising that it was outside the town's development boundary and would be detrimental to the rural landscape.

In reaction to the news, the Phoenix Health Group, which also operates several surgeries throughout the Cotswolds and Swindon, said: "We are delighted that the planning application for a new surgery was approved... We acknowledge that this was an emotional issue and there was strong feeling within the town on both sides. We would like to thank the Tetbury Town and Parish councils, the Gloucestershire Integrated Care Board, the Phoenix Patient Participation Group and all the patients that have supported the surgery on this matter. We look forwards to beginning work on creating a surgery that Tetbury and its surrounding villages deserves".

APG, acting for Stonewood Homes, told planners that the project would deliver a primary healthcare facility to replace its surgery in Tetbury's Long Street.

APG said: "The proposals include 56no car parking spaces for the healthcare facility (including disabled and car share spaces as well as electric vehicle charging points)... 27no houses are also proposed, including 40% affordable housing (11 units). Both the healthcare facility and the residential development will be served by a new access from Cirencester Road. The public right of way (which currently follows the existing driveway to Worwell Farm) is proposed to be realigned and separated from the existing driveway providing a safe, traffic free route."

As an update before the final approval, Phoenix put out a statement in an attempt to assuage local concerns. The surgery told patients: "We have been searching for land for a new purpose built surgery for the past five years as our current accommodation is no longer fit for purpose. The only site that is both available and affordable is at Worwell Farm. The surgery would be long term tenants in the building as we could not meet the financial constraints set by the district valuer to build it ourselves. The surgery does not stand to make any financial gain from the build and is only interested in securing a long term home for healthcare in the town in a purpose built surgery."

The building will not, the surgery said, take any services away from Tetbury Hospital.

The project also promises to enhance the local habitat. In a Design and Access statement, APG said that open land within the development "will be established as gardens, shrubs and domestic hedges, with semi-natural habitats including trees, mixed native hedges, species-rich grassland/wildflower areas and ponds". Nineteen bat roosting boxes and 38 swift nesting boxes will be also installed, while fencing will be "designed to facilitate small mammal movement, and hibernacula will be created to provide habitat piles for wildlife".

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