'Hideous' surgery homes plan comes under fire from Newmarket Town Council

Newmarket town councillors members agreed with the principle of developing but rejected the application on design grounds.
Newmarket town councillors members agreed with the principle of developing but rejected the application on design grounds.

Plans which could see a Newmarket GP practice relocate to the town’s hospital site have run into objections.

Oakfield Surgery, in Vicarage Road, which currently cares for just over 7,000 patients wants to be operating from its new base in Exning Road from April next year and proposals for what will happen to its existing site came before Newmarket town councillors on Monday.

A planning application has been submitted for five detached and semi-detached homes, four duplex apartments and one penthouse apartment.

But the design of the proposed new homes have already fallen foul of Historic England whose inspector David Eve said the application should either be amended or refused.

“We are concerned that the layout, form, scale and design of the proposed new dwellings would not be appropriate to the conservation area and would result in harm to it significance,” he said.

“The proposed new homes would be three storeys in height with almost flat roofs and blocks clad in materials, and with detailing, in stark contrast to the surroundings. They would in no way reflect the positive qualities of the conservation area and would harm rather than enhance it.”

The site is close to two listed buildings, the Rous Memorial Hospital and Machell Place Stables.

Concerns have also been raised by the district council’s tree officer who said although at first glance the site layout seemed to have considered the trees there, he feared their size, coupled with the size of the flats, would create a conflict which could see them being severely reduced or even cut down in future. He was also worried about how the trees would be protected from damage during construction on a ‘tight’ site.

NHS England has also tabled a ‘holding’ objection until plans for the relocation of the practice are finalised later this month. The move to the hospital site would initially see the practice in temporary accommodation before it was moved into a permanent home.

Newmarket town councillors were also concerned about the design of the proposed new buildings.

“It is not in keeping with the area,” said Cllr Robert Nobbs, and Cllr Philippa Winter called the design ‘hideous’.

Cllr Warwick Hirst said; “There is a need for housing and it fulfils all the requirements.” But Cllr Peter Hulbert said he doubted whether the housing proposed would be the affordable type the town really needed.

Members agreed with the principle of developing the site but rejected the application on design grounds.