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£1million doctors' surgery one step closer for Dunster
A NEW £1million doctors’ surgery in Dunster could be open by the end of 2014, after plans were given the go-ahead.
The existing surgery, which cares for more than 2,000 patients from as far afield as Wheddon Cross and Watchet, is formed of two 17th Century cottages in Park Street.
The 23X8 metre upgrade will be built on the playing field off Knowle Lane towards the bottom of West Street to include more treatment rooms, dispensary and parking.
Dunster GP Dr Ian Kelham, who has been a driving force behind the project, has been encouraged by widespread support shown by residents and organisations such as sports clubs and the Exmoor Society.
He said: “The village has been desperately behind it. There were one or two concerns, so we tried to address those and I feel we have managed to satisfy everyone in the end.
“Getting planning permission is just one hurdle – although Somerset Primary Care Trust seems confident we will get funding, we need to waitfor confirmation before the architects can do a detailed plan.
“There is no parking at the current surgery, it is built on different levels and is damp in places, so we are trying to create a suitable environment to practise modern medicine.”
Dunster Parish Council formed a working group to investigate the best possible location for anew surgery, and after exhausting anumber of options, decided on the playing field.
English Heritage expressed concern the development would harm the conservation area but Exmoor National Park Authority’s planning committee applauded efforts to build something in keeping with the village.
Cllr Graham Lamacraft, project manager of the working group, said: “Dunster is a growing village and it was imperative a new surgery be built as soon as possible. Several other sites had been considered elsewhere in the parish but this was the most suitable and practical.
“The parish council, together with the Tithe Barn Committee and the Dunster Working Group, have achieved a tremendous amountin recent years in protecting the heritage of the village for the benefit of residents and visitors alike but as a growing and active community it must be allowed to develop and provide improved facilities for the community.”