Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Lack of GP Surgeries 'Won't Halt Housing' DIFFICULT TO STOP HOMES BEING BUILT, SAY COUNCIL BOSSES

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Lack of GP Surgeries 'Won't Halt Housing' DIFFICULT TO STOP HOMES BEING BUILT, SAY COUNCIL BOSSES

Article excerpt

Byline: DANIEL HOLLAND Local Democracy Reporter

COUNCIL bosses say they would need "overwhelming" proof of a GP shortage to call a halt on massive new housing developments in Newcastle until new surgeries are built.

In December, the city's healthcare chiefs came under fire for not creating a GP practice on the Great Park, which will eventually be home to 14,000 residents in the north of the city.

But councillors were told at a meeting of Newcastle City Council's health scrutiny committee on Thursday that the authority would struggle to refuse planning permission for developments on grounds that there would be insufficient healthcare provision.

Sarah Davitt, from the council's planning team, said: "If the authority were to refuse planning permission we would need a very strong evidence base to say that this is unacceptable without healthcare provision on that particular site. It is a really difficult discussion with any developer.

"Ultimately, it is a part of the advice that the secure from the CCG in terms of when they suggest we might need specific on-site and off-site facilities to meet the needs of a development.

"It is a difficult argument to make to a planning inspector and to a developer, to say that we are refusing an application because the GP practices are oversubscribed."

She added that there would need to be "clear and overwhelming" evidence to say that the harm caused by a lack of GP services would outweigh the benefits of a new housing project towards meeting the authority's house-building targets and boosting the city's economy.

When planning permission is granted for major new housing estates, the council often asks developers to pay towards the cost of building new GP practices for future residents through Section 106 agreements.

But Jackie Cairns, NewcastleGateshead Clinical Commissioning Group's (CCG) director of strategy and integration, said that opening new doctors' surgeries was not always the best way of ensuring provision for new residents. …

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