Fringe Box



GBC and Developers Give Reassurances Over Ash Health Services

Published on: 14 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 20 Aug, 2021

Map showing position of allocated land.

By David Reading

Ash reporter

Residents of Ash and Tongham have been assured that land is still being safeguarded for a new healthcare centre to meet the rise in the local population generated by the housing development boom. 

The assurance has come from both Guildford Borough Council and Bewley Homes, the developers building the new estate of 481 homes on land south of Ash Lodge Drive.

Construction under way of the new estate south of Ash Lodge Drive.

For years campaigners in Ash and Tongham have been asking: how will health services cope with the influx of hundreds of new residents?

The land for a primary care centre on the new estate has been set aside by Bewley under a Section 106 legal agreement with GBC.  This agreement lasts five years, until 2024.

Progress towards a firm plan has been slow and some campaigners have voiced fears that there could be a real risk that the much-needed health centre will never happen. However, this is not the only plan on the table – an expansion of existing centres is another possibility.

Cllr Julia McShane

Offering reassurance, GBC’s Lead Councillor for Community and Housing, Cllr Julia McShane, said on August 9: “The land is still being safeguarded through our 106 agreement. We have agreed funding from local developers to provide the healthcare facilities for local people whether through a new healthcare facility or increased capacity at existing centres, which the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) will determine based on local need.”

The NHS believes that general practice services for residents in the numerous new housing developments in the area are best provided by the existing local GP practices – the Bartlett Group Practice in Ash Vale and the Border practice in Blackwater Way.

It is understood that initially Bewley had an agreement with the Bartlett practice to occupy the earmarked site but that there was an objection from Border on competition grounds. Border has been asked to comment.

Andrew Morris, Land Director at Bewley, said in February: “Over the last year, Bewley Homes has been actively marketing the land for an appropriate user for the facility. We had an initial agreement with the Bartlett practice to occupy the land, before another a local practice (Border practice) objected on competition grounds.”

A statement on August 6 from Mr Morris said: “Bewley is continuing dialogue with the Bartlett Practice, who had previously registered its interest in the health provision on the estate. We are also aware that there has been a reorganisation of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) to combine the two previous areas, which will result in a much more inclusive strategy.

“The past 18 months has provided a great focus for health providers to consider a slightly different way of working which has increased a more remote ‘virtual’ way of supporting patients.

“Whilst this may not reduce the building requirements for doctors’ surgery space, it will need to be designed for a more flexible application and therefore we are making sure that the end result is the right solution. To that end, a slightly longer time will be taken to agree the optimum provision.”

The Bartlett practice said its workforce plans take full account of the expected influx of new people to the area, but gave no details.

The new estate south of Ash Lodge Drive is just one of the many developments on the cards. Many more homes in Ash and Tongham – around 900 – are either planned or under construction.

Share This Post

Responses to GBC and Developers Give Reassurances Over Ash Health Services

  1. John Ferns Reply

    August 16, 2021 at 12:18 pm

    A long overdue but welcome update. And the developer’s statement that they will allow a “slightly longer extension on the s.106 agreement”, is encouraging.

    However, approved planning applications in the west of the borough are already well in excess of 900 homes, the bulk of which are on land served by Manor Road and the village of Tongham, which are all within walking distance of the Border Practice, just across the county border in Hampshire.

    The really good news is that the two disparate CCGs who have separately managed the two practices in question have now been merged.

    All we need now is some joined-up thinking on the way forward by all the parties involved.

    Is that too much to expect?

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *