A GROWING Somerset town could soon get a new doctors’ surgery – but health bosses have refused to set a date for its delivery.

Three major development sites in Bruton are at various stages of construction, delivering a total of 181 new homes between them if all three proposals end up being approved.

One set of plans, put forward by Woolsington One Ltd., includes the site of a new medical centre at the town’s eastern edge, intended to replace the current facility on Patwell Lane.

NHS Somerset recently applied for permission to keep a temporary extension to the existing doctors’ surgery in place for up to five more years, allowing staff to temporarily deal with rising patient numbers.

But health bosses have not set a concrete date for when the new facility will be delivered – and Somerset Council is no clearer on when the housing proposals to deliver the site will come forward for approval.

Only one of the three identified Bruton development sites is currently delivering new homes – the Cubis Bruton site on the A359 Cuckoo Hill, which will eventually comprise 56 properties.

The Acorn Property Group is currently delivering phase two of the avant garde development, comprising 28 three- and four-bedroom houses within the ‘Longcroft’ section of the site.

Just half a mile down the road, Woolsington One Ltd. is planning to construct 65 homes to the east of Wyvern Close, within one of the main residential areas within the town.

The bulk of the new homes within this site (including 23 affordable properties) will be delivered to the south, near Brewham Road, with a sizeable amount of public open space being allocated in the centre to links up with the existing Eastfield play area.

The land at the northern end of the site, near the Cuckoo Hill allotments, has been allocated for a new medical centre – with the Newcastle-based developer expected to contribute towards its cost if planning permission is granted.

The NHS Somerset Integrated Care Board has formally requested a contribution of £26,682 towards the cost of the new surgery – the equivalent of £635 per dwelling.

The Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) identified the current Bruton Surgery as one of 14 practices that would need to either expand or relocate due to new housing growth as far back as September 2020.

The current surgery has enough capacity for 3,525 patients (not including its temporary extension) – but it currently has a patient list of 5,701 people as of December 2023 (the most recent figures available).

A spokesman for NHS Somerset (which recently replaced the CCG) said: “The practice has been identified as being under capacity in terms of space requirement and we will be working with the practice to identify appropriate opportunities to redress this as necessary.

“The timing of any new medical facility would be dependent upon a variety of factors.

“The staffing of the facility is the responsibility of the GP practice provider.”

The third development site in Bruton lies to the south of Brewham Road, with the Acorn Property Group putting forward plans for 60 new homes.

This new development would be access from Brewham Road, with a pedestrian link being provided onto Darkey Lane – a narrow road which is popular with dog walkers and which provides a direct pedestrian route to Bruton railway station.

South Somerset District Council’s regulation committee voted to grant permission to these plans in November 2019 – leading locals to brand councillors as “having no common sense” in light of fears about rising traffic.

However, the two developments either side of Brewham Road remain in limbo as a result of the ongoing phosphates crisis, which has delayed nearly 18,000 new homes across Somerset – including more than 5,000 across the former South Somerset area.

In order to prevent any net increase in phosphate levels within the Somerset Levels and Moors catchment area (which includes the River Brue and its tributaries), developers have to deliver additional mitigation either within the site or elsewhere in the catchment.

This can take a variety of forms, such as creating new wetlands, fallowing agricultural lands, upgrading waste water treatment plants or purchasing ‘phosphate credits’ to fund mitigation away from the development site.

Somerset Council said it was still negotiating with the developers regarding phosphate mitigation on each site – and could not give a target date for when the plans would come before its planning committee south for a decision.

A spokesman said: “The plans for land north of Brewham Road will be determined by the committee.

“There is an outstanding issue relating to phosphate mitigation that we are waiting for further information on before it can be referred to committee, so there is no fixed date at the moment.”

The council secured £9.6m of government funding shortly before Christmas to expand its phosphate mitigation programmes, enabling thousands more homes to be unlocked in the next 12 months.

The detailed strategy for how this money will be applied will be discussed by its strategic planning committee in Taunton on March 21 at 10am.

The council also clarified that the Acorn site to the south of Brewham Road would not be contributing any funding towards the new medical centre.

A spokesman said: “The application to the south has been approved subject to a Section 106 agreement and is subject of a phosphate mitigation strategy to be agreed prior to the decision being issued.

“The application was approved at committee prior to requests being made by the NHS for contributions and is therefore not liable to an NHS contribution.

“Only the application to the north of Brewham Road will be subject to NHS contributions.

“Any reserved matters application for the northern development will need to be made within three years of the outline application being approved. We have no indication from the applicant when this is likely to be submitted.

“We are not aware of any discussions taking place regarding the future of the current surgery site.”