By Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporting Service
An outline proposal to create a private health care hub in Cookstown is set to be approved by Mid Ulster District Council’s planning committee.
The application, to build a health care facility that will provide accommodation for multiple doctors’ surgeries and ancillary uses commonly associated with a medical centre, has been brought forward by agent Ross Planning on behalf of applicant MACM (NI) Ltd.
If the £8 million scheme is approved, it will see the town’s four main GP practices move to the one location.
Speaking about the application, the CEO of MACM, Sean McMahon said it will help to regenerate the area.
“This site is located at land to the rear of the properties in Loy Street, which will also have the potential to develop extra care and supported living accommodation, creating a health and wellbeing village, similar to other developments in the UK and other parts of Europe,” he said.
“The integrated model will also act as a brownfield regeneration project for the area, creating employment in the short-term.”
The outline proposal, which also includes a cafe and retail floor space within the main building, has been recommended for approval by council’s planning officers but has attracted a number of objections.
If approved, the facility will, it is envisaged, accommodate imaging facilities, a minor surgery suite, out of hours consultations and community health care partnerships to deliver a range of services.
The case officer’s report notes that all of the GP practices to be included in the scheme have signed an agreement to move forward on the basis of the scheme proposed.
“Their Investment and Development partner (the applicant) is in ongoing discussions with the Health and Social Care Board and local Primary Health Care trusts, who have agreed to the proposal subject to commercial terms and final businesses case on the final extended community use of the facility and emerging health model,” reads the report.
Cookstown’s GPs have already spoken in favour of the development.
“It is recognised that current health care facilities in Cookstown, do not meet the future needs of the community,” GPs have said previously.
“Over the past few years the doctors have worked with our development partners, creating a vision for future primary care services to be delivered within a purpose built facility.
“We believe a health and well being village will enable our team of health care professionals to deliver a wider range of services and to develop partnerships with other stakeholders.”
The outline application has been recommended for approval with several conditions attached, including the creation of a right hand turning lane for the proposed development.
A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said they will not be issuing a comment on a “private concern”.
The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) confirmed it is aware of discussions between local GPs and a private developer.
“The HSCB is aware that the GPs in Cookstown have been in discussion with a developer in relation to a potential new health centre in Cookstown,” said a HSCB spokesperson.
“However, the HSCB has not been in recent communication with the GP practices in this regard. Until receipt of an application from the GP practices, the HSCB is not in a position to consider the affordability of this project.”