Desperately needed’ GP surgery and community centre get backing for Teignbridge

Thursday, 13 June 2024 10:30

By Bradley Gerrard - Local Democracy Reporter

Devon’s cabinet heard this week that the county council will take ownership of the whole site that the two buildings are planned for, to help ensure the authority receives the funding it has secured from the HIF totalling £55 million pounds.

A “desperately needed” doctor’s surgery and community centre have secured backing amid ongoing infrastructure works linked to a 2,500-strong housing development in South West Exeter.
The GP surgery and community building are being funded as part of a wider £55 million grant that Devon County Council has been awarded from the Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF).
The community centre has experienced some uncertainty recently, though, after Exminster Parish Council proposed a motion in April to reverse its previous decision last October to take ownership of it.
Fears about costs have prompted the parish to consider whether it is a viable owner for the building one it is completed.
But Devon’s cabinet heard this week (Wednesday 12 June) that the county council will take ownership of the whole site that the two buildings are planned for, to help ensure the authority receives the funding it has secured from the HIF.
It is understood that the NHS will either lease the building or buy that part of the site from the council once the GP surgery is completed.
Councillors heard that the council had considered abandoning the entire community building and GP surgery project altogether, or to construct the doctor’s first then the community building.
However, both options were dismissed, with the latter considered unviable because of “insurmountable challenges” in trying to build the community centre once the GP surgery is open.
“We looked at all options, including not building the community building, but we are aware that the GP surgery is desperately needed,” said Meg Booth, director of climate change, environment and transport.
“Because of the lay of the land [at the site], we consider it virtually impossible to build a community centre once the GP opens, and we need the infrastructure which is why the recommendation before you suggests Devon County Council takes ownership.”
Ms Booth added that since writing her report for councillors, she had been approached by someone interested in taking on the community building, something she hoped reduced concerns from councillors about the possible financial liability of owning the centre.
As it stands, the cabinet has agreed that the council will take ownership of the community centre, but with the option to transfer it to a suitable owner in future.
Other works that have been completed as part of the wider HIF funding include the improvement works at the Devon Hotel roundabout and two of four signal junctions on the A379.
The realignment of Chudleigh Road is deemed ‘shovel-ready’, the same as the community centre and GP surgery.
Devon is, however, seeking an extension from HIF in relation to when works need to be completed by.
Ms Booth’s report said the delivery of some of the remaining schemes “is no longer achievable by next March because of planning delays and other issues, and so it was seeking an extension from Homes England, which oversees the HIF, until March 2026.
The county council said it needed an “urgent decision” from Homes England on this, though, to make sure it can begin construction on the outstanding projects as soon as possible to complete them by its new hoped-for deadline.
The authority’s chief executive, Donna Manson, also thanked her counterpart at Teignbridge District Council, its managing director Phil Shears, for the work his authority had contributed to the entire scheme that crosses into the district’s boundary.
 

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