THE CHAIRMAN of Balsall Common Village Residents Association has hit back at campaigners who are opposed to a new health centre being built on a controversial green belt site on the outskirts of the village.
It comes after the Solihull News printed a letter opposing the scheme from Richard Lloyd, chairman of Berkswell Parish Council.
The plans, which are being put forward by Sapphire Primary Care Developments, on behalf of Solihull NHS Care Trust and Balsall Common and Meriden Group Practice, include replacing the existing GP surgery in Meeting House Lane with new modern premises at Riddings Hill on the corner of Hall Meadow Road and Station Road.
Services to be provided from the centre would include physiotherapy, health visiting, chiropody, family planning, diabetes, antenatal and postnatal clinics, district nursing, social services and speech and language therapy.
Glyn Price, chairman of Balsall Common Village Residents Association, said: “The feeling amongst local people in Balsall Common is in favour of the plans to go ahead with the new health centre, opposition to the scheme tends to be from people living in Berkswell but a significant number of people in Berkswell do support it.
“What is being offered now in the form of these new plans is a significant improvement on the existing GP facilities available as people would not have to travel so far out of the village to other hospitals such as Heartlands or Walsgrave because of the number of services it would be offering.”
“The scheme would also offer more parking facilities. The downside of the application is that it is on green belt land but it is only a small plot and has no amenity benefit to the community.
“The new building would obviously be bigger and in the ideal world we would put it in the village centre but the ideal world is not practical and there is nothing available in that location and we have been told it is the only viable option.”
He is urging villagers to get behind the proposals, he added: “In terms of redesigning the village, it is an offer we ought to grasp and run with.”
Richard Lloyd, chairman of Berkswell Parish Council, said: “At our parish council meeting on June 1, we had a few people from Balsall parish with the rest from the Berkswell parish and there was significant opinion expressed against it.
“I would call on villagers to contact Solihull Care Trust and ask for alternative sites to be made available.
“There are buildings in the centre of the village that can accommodate this new surgery. The sheer size of the building if it gets the go-ahead will be very large indeed.”
Kay Howles, who sits on the Conservation Committee of Solihull Council, as the planning representative of the Berkswell Society, said an objection had been lodged to the plans at a monthly meeting at the Council House in Solihull on Tuesday.
The objection will be passed on to the planning sub-committee of Solihull Council when the matter is heard on June 24.