Newmarket’s Oakfield surgery will stay at its Vicarage Road site for at least another two years, despite plans to build houses on the land.
Patients had initially been told the practice would relocate to the Newmarket Hospital site in April after senior partner, Dr Simon Arthur, who retired this month, decided to sell the land for residential development.
Five years ago the surgery partners informed the NHS they were looking to sell the land this year, but work has still not started on the £1.1 million project to create a community health hub at the hospital for the surgery move to.
A planning application for 10 houses on the Vicarage Road site is still being considered by planners. The first set of designs submitted were criticised by Newmarket Town Council for being out of character, with Cllr Philippa Winter calling them ‘hideous’.
But revised plans, with houses of a more traditional design, won the backing of the town council earlier this month as well support from Historic England, which had also rejected the previous scheme.
Dr Arthur, the majority shareholder in the practice, which caters for more than 7,000 patients, informed the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) back in 2012 that he planned to sell the site as part of his retirement plan.
As the hospital site is not yet prepared for the practice’s move, he and his partners have agreed to lease it to the CCG for a further two years.
He said there was likely be a penalty clause in the contract to increase the rent if the surgery was still on the site after then.
Speaking about the delay, Dr Arthur said: “I feel a little let down because it has made my retirement very nervous. It is no one’s fault. It is one of those things. With the best will in the world we have all tried our best.”Amanda Lyes, chief corporate services officer for NHS West Suffolk, said: “The lease, which is currently being finalised, will enable them to practise from the site while work continues to relocate the surgery to Newmarket Community Hospital, which is our preferred option.”
She said there were ongoing discussions about finding space within the hospital which met the surgery’s requirements.