New health centre to be built in Belmont despite hundreds of objections

A computer generated image of how the surgery could look

A computer generated image of how the surgery could look

First published in News
Last updated
Sutton Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

Protesters jeered as councillors gave planning permission for a new health centre to be built in Belmont last night.

Sutton Council's development control committee granted permission for developer Assura to build a state-of-the-art new medical centre in Homeland Drive on the site of the old Henderson Hospital at a meeting yesterday.

Sutton Guardian:

More than 200 people filled the meeting room at Sutton Council's civic offices yesterday

The new facility will house the Belmont and the Grove Road and Benhill GP practices as well as a new pharmacy.

A group of nine houses will also be built on the site, which has been disused since 2009.

But people living in the area near the site submitted hundreds of objections and more than 200 people turned up to last night's meeting wearing yellow stickers to signal their opposition to the plans.

They believe it will cause an increase in traffic to the area, clog surrounding roads up with cars and cause vulnerable people to have to walk more than 400m from the nearest bus stop.

The Liberal Democrat majority on the development control committee voted in favour of the application with only Conservative Councillor Tony Shields voting against it. His Tory colleague Coun Graham Witham was late to the meeting meaning he could not vote.

The meeting was a resumption of a meeting held at the end of December that went on so long that it had to be adjourned to last night.

Over the course of the two meetings the committee heard from the developer, doctors from both the Grove Road and Benhill and Belmont practices as well as objectors.

Speaking at last night's meeting, Dr Jeffrey Croucher of the Benhill and Belmont GP centre said: "GP services are under unprecedented strain.

"In addition, there is a need to access to our surgeries now and in the future. The current buildings will not be able to meet those requirements."

"We need to make bold changes to how we are organised and run. The proposed development will provide convenient, accessible and sustainable medical care for the lifetime of everyone in this room."

Where the new centre will be built

Coun Tony Shields drew cheers from the audience when he spoke against the application and suggested the Sutton Hospital site in Cotswold Road might be a more appropriate venue. 

Backing the proposal, Liberal Democrat councillors said they recognised people's concerns over the project but thought, on balance, they should give it planning permission.

Coun Stan Theed said: "It's quite clear it's a matter where it's difficult to come to one conclusion, it's a question of balance.

"The objections are understandable.

There are apprehensive people in this audience and I understand their feelings but against that we have medical practices who have been waiting for a new home for 10 years."

Coun Wendy Mathys added: "There are about 20,000 people on the patient lists at the two surgeries and that's a lot of people who aren't here tonight but may be quite happy with this proposal."

The committee voted five to one in favour of the application.


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Comments (16)

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12:23pm Thu 9 Jan 14

LiberalsOut says...

With the majority they have on the Council these public consultations are just a window dressing exercise
Yet again the views of the public are ignored, and I hope they will remember this when they vote in May
With the majority they have on the Council these public consultations are just a window dressing exercise Yet again the views of the public are ignored, and I hope they will remember this when they vote in May LiberalsOut
  • Score: 7

1:19pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Giles C says...

LiberalsOut wrote:
With the majority they have on the Council these public consultations are just a window dressing exercise
Yet again the views of the public are ignored, and I hope they will remember this when they vote in May
People wont remember in May..
You watch the LDs will get reelected as they have all the care homes,churches and mosques tied up.
Moreover they all have postal votes...just saying...
[quote][p][bold]LiberalsOut[/bold] wrote: With the majority they have on the Council these public consultations are just a window dressing exercise Yet again the views of the public are ignored, and I hope they will remember this when they vote in May[/p][/quote]People wont remember in May.. You watch the LDs will get reelected as they have all the care homes,churches and mosques tied up. Moreover they all have postal votes...just saying... Giles C
  • Score: 5

1:19pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Michael Pantlin says...

LiberalsOut wrote:
With the majority they have on the Council these public consultations are just a window dressing exercise
Yet again the views of the public are ignored, and I hope they will remember this when they vote in May
A guiding maxim which has served me well through a lifetime is "If in doubt - don't", not one shared by the LibDemons. When they sugger anguish making a difficult decision it's"..Let it through". Yes we can register general non-specific objection in our voting at the next election but never forget direct action you can take when such a development is built against your wishes. You can't be forced to use it. Stay away and register with another practice, thus cutting it's funding and let it wither on the vine, If this happens GPs won't want to work there anyway which will help shut it down.
[quote][p][bold]LiberalsOut[/bold] wrote: With the majority they have on the Council these public consultations are just a window dressing exercise Yet again the views of the public are ignored, and I hope they will remember this when they vote in May[/p][/quote]A guiding maxim which has served me well through a lifetime is "If in doubt - don't", not one shared by the LibDemons. When they sugger anguish making a difficult decision it's"..Let it through". Yes we can register general non-specific objection in our voting at the next election but never forget direct action you can take when such a development is built against your wishes. You can't be forced to use it. Stay away and register with another practice, thus cutting it's funding and let it wither on the vine, If this happens GPs won't want to work there anyway which will help shut it down. Michael Pantlin
  • Score: 6

1:36pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Red&Blue says...

Hopefully the people of Sutton will start to realise what a poor Council we have due to the leadership of the Lib Dems. Hopefully come the election we will have a new council who will listen to the people of Sutton.

The arrogrance of the Sutton Councillors last night was breathtaking. They realised that the application was flawed yet still voted for it. They realised that mistakes regarding planning were made in the past yet still voted in favour. With one councillor actually saying that the residents will just have to put up with the increased traffic, parking and disruption that the development will cause.

It is becoming clear that the liberal Democrats no longer listen to the people that they are supposed to represent.

Its time for a change in Sutton.
Hopefully the people of Sutton will start to realise what a poor Council we have due to the leadership of the Lib Dems. Hopefully come the election we will have a new council who will listen to the people of Sutton. The arrogrance of the Sutton Councillors last night was breathtaking. They realised that the application was flawed yet still voted for it. They realised that mistakes regarding planning were made in the past yet still voted in favour. With one councillor actually saying that the residents will just have to put up with the increased traffic, parking and disruption that the development will cause. It is becoming clear that the liberal Democrats no longer listen to the people that they are supposed to represent. Its time for a change in Sutton. Red&Blue
  • Score: 18

4:00pm Thu 9 Jan 14

Niki R says...

So Brendan Hudson, ex-Lib Dem Councillor and CCG Chair gets his reward at last for backing BSBV...
So Brendan Hudson, ex-Lib Dem Councillor and CCG Chair gets his reward at last for backing BSBV... Niki R
  • Score: 8

5:03pm Thu 9 Jan 14

CPN says...

" The proposed development will provide convenient, accessible and sustainable medical care." - Dr Croucher.
Really? convenient - how? In the middle of a residential estate, a long way from the village in Belmont and the patients it is meant to serve and the pharmacist who has been such a respected member of the Belmont community for so many years.
Accessible? - rubbish. To Dr Croucher in his car, maybe, not to the patents whose needs should have come first. Nor should patients, who are by definition unwell, be encouraged to drive or cycle or walk the necessary distance; they should be able to access the surgery they attend by public transport. And as for encouraging car driving in a "green" borough!! Unfortunately for St Helier A&E, they will be more accessible from Belmont as at least a bus goes there!!
Sustainable ? maybe. But none-the-less absolutely the wrong place to build something which the people who need it and whose needs should have come first, ie the patient, will have such difficulty getting to.
I was there last night and was appalled at how little the Councillors seemed to be aware of the feelings of those who had bothered to go to the meeting. What a farce...
And I agree with Michael Pantlin, I shall be looking for another surgery, more accessible and where they think their patients matter.
" The proposed development will provide convenient, accessible and sustainable medical care." - Dr Croucher. Really? convenient - how? In the middle of a residential estate, a long way from the village in Belmont and the patients it is meant to serve and the pharmacist who has been such a respected member of the Belmont community for so many years. Accessible? - rubbish. To Dr Croucher in his car, maybe, not to the patents whose needs should have come first. Nor should patients, who are by definition unwell, be encouraged to drive or cycle or walk the necessary distance; they should be able to access the surgery they attend by public transport. And as for encouraging car driving in a "green" borough!! Unfortunately for St Helier A&E, they will be more accessible from Belmont as at least a bus goes there!! Sustainable ? maybe. But none-the-less absolutely the wrong place to build something which the people who need it and whose needs should have come first, ie the patient, will have such difficulty getting to. I was there last night and was appalled at how little the Councillors seemed to be aware of the feelings of those who had bothered to go to the meeting. What a farce... And I agree with Michael Pantlin, I shall be looking for another surgery, more accessible and where they think their patients matter. CPN
  • Score: 5

9:08pm Fri 10 Jan 14

charlesmcg says...

It will take a lot more than 200 folk to stop much needed development like this. As pointed out above, there are 20,000 local folk who are supportive or not bothered, so it will happen. This is a solution to a problem. the objectors don't appear to have a workable alternative that can be commercially deliverable. I am all for development and this gets my vote !
It will take a lot more than 200 folk to stop much needed development like this. As pointed out above, there are 20,000 local folk who are supportive or not bothered, so it will happen. This is a solution to a problem. the objectors don't appear to have a workable alternative that can be commercially deliverable. I am all for development and this gets my vote ! charlesmcg
  • Score: 1

11:51am Sat 11 Jan 14

ResidentTony says...

Niki from the left and the others above could not care less about many of the issues they comment on. or the art of the possible. They want to take over from the Liberals (sic) and use every subject as a political football. As all the too often, Charlesmcg is the lone voice of reason
Niki from the left and the others above could not care less about many of the issues they comment on. or the art of the possible. They want to take over from the Liberals (sic) and use every subject as a political football. As all the too often, Charlesmcg is the lone voice of reason ResidentTony
  • Score: 0

12:02pm Sun 12 Jan 14

CPN says...

This situation, ResidentTony, is nothing at all to do with politics, as was agreed in discussions at the meeting. It has to do with the general community of Belmont, which was not consulted (only those around Belmont Heights were) but who will be badly affected. Nor was it disputed that a new surgery was a "much needed development", charlesmcg, but that it should not be developed where it is proposed. Politics came into it because on the planning committee, the two Conservatives either represented or live in Belmont and / or South Sutton, and so know their community and the needs of people here (and the effects on Belmont village of the move to a distant site) The Lib Dem councillors all represented wards well away - Wallington North, Beddington, Worcester Park, Sutton North, St Helier, Sutton West - and neither knew the Belmont community nor seemed to be acquainted with the feelings of those of us living here.

Nor is it a NIMBY matter as had been suggested; those there objecting were not only from Belmont Heights, they were people from Belmont itself who had managed to learn about it in spite of the lack of publicity. The "20,000 local folk who are supportive or not bothered"; most would not have known about it, it was so badly advertised. I only learnt about it after the cut off line for writing to Sutton Council, and I know of many others who did not know either.

No-one disputes the need for new premises. But before you deride those of us who do not think the old Henderson hospital site is the right place, please explain to us how we get there with all the problems outlined earlier, especially if we are not feeling well. The first point for a new surgery is ease of access by its patients to my mind. You can have the fanciest building you wish, but if you can't get there, there is no point
This situation, ResidentTony, is nothing at all to do with politics, as was agreed in discussions at the meeting. It has to do with the general community of Belmont, which was not consulted (only those around Belmont Heights were) but who will be badly affected. Nor was it disputed that a new surgery was a "much needed development", charlesmcg, but that it should not be developed where it is proposed. Politics came into it because on the planning committee, the two Conservatives either represented or live in Belmont and / or South Sutton, and so know their community and the needs of people here (and the effects on Belmont village of the move to a distant site) The Lib Dem councillors all represented wards well away - Wallington North, Beddington, Worcester Park, Sutton North, St Helier, Sutton West - and neither knew the Belmont community nor seemed to be acquainted with the feelings of those of us living here. Nor is it a NIMBY matter as had been suggested; those there objecting were not only from Belmont Heights, they were people from Belmont itself who had managed to learn about it in spite of the lack of publicity. The "20,000 local folk who are supportive or not bothered"; most would not have known about it, it was so badly advertised. I only learnt about it after the cut off line for writing to Sutton Council, and I know of many others who did not know either. No-one disputes the need for new premises. But before you deride those of us who do not think the old Henderson hospital site is the right place, please explain to us how we get there with all the problems outlined earlier, especially if we are not feeling well. The first point for a new surgery is ease of access by its patients to my mind. You can have the fanciest building you wish, but if you can't get there, there is no point CPN
  • Score: 6

8:24pm Sun 12 Jan 14

charlesmcg says...

CPN, that is one of the best responses I have seen for a long time and it genuinely appears not to have a political bent. I have much sympathy for your points and I do agree that accessibility is not very good. I have a car and a bike so I'm fine but I do understand the issues for those without transport or who are infirm/sick.
With respect to publicity, I have been aware for some time via this newspaper (print and online) and thru looking at Planning Applications online, and anyone with an interest in his/her local environment should pay attention to local media whether it be the Guardian, flyers thru the door or Council publications I do, and my friends do to and many of the 20,000 will have been aware, but chose to do nothing.
In the end, this is a service desperately in need of improvement and expansion. This opportunity has been exploited by the sponsors of the new Surgery and they are delivering a solution, that fulfils a need and is commercially viable. Other solutions were probably evaluated, but they were not commercially viable. I am a firm believer in development (just like the Conservatives and LibDems) and believe that this project is OK. Its not in my backyard, but the Brighton Road car park scheme is in my backyard and I support that too.
CPN, that is one of the best responses I have seen for a long time and it genuinely appears not to have a political bent. I have much sympathy for your points and I do agree that accessibility is not very good. I have a car and a bike so I'm fine but I do understand the issues for those without transport or who are infirm/sick. With respect to publicity, I have been aware for some time via this newspaper (print and online) and thru looking at Planning Applications online, and anyone with an interest in his/her local environment should pay attention to local media whether it be the Guardian, flyers thru the door or Council publications I do, and my friends do to and many of the 20,000 will have been aware, but chose to do nothing. In the end, this is a service desperately in need of improvement and expansion. This opportunity has been exploited by the sponsors of the new Surgery and they are delivering a solution, that fulfils a need and is commercially viable. Other solutions were probably evaluated, but they were not commercially viable. I am a firm believer in development (just like the Conservatives and LibDems) and believe that this project is OK. Its not in my backyard, but the Brighton Road car park scheme is in my backyard and I support that too. charlesmcg
  • Score: 1

8:29pm Sun 12 Jan 14

emelem says...

just out of curiosity, what would people opposed to the centre prefer this building be used for?
just out of curiosity, what would people opposed to the centre prefer this building be used for? emelem
  • Score: 2

10:55pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Giles C says...

charlesmcg wrote:
It will take a lot more than 200 folk to stop much needed development like this. As pointed out above, there are 20,000 local folk who are supportive or not bothered, so it will happen. This is a solution to a problem. the objectors don't appear to have a workable alternative that can be commercially deliverable. I am all for development and this gets my vote !
Yes But anything the Lib Dems do gets your vote.....
[quote][p][bold]charlesmcg[/bold] wrote: It will take a lot more than 200 folk to stop much needed development like this. As pointed out above, there are 20,000 local folk who are supportive or not bothered, so it will happen. This is a solution to a problem. the objectors don't appear to have a workable alternative that can be commercially deliverable. I am all for development and this gets my vote ![/p][/quote]Yes But anything the Lib Dems do gets your vote..... Giles C
  • Score: -2

10:57pm Sun 12 Jan 14

Giles C says...

ResidentTony wrote:
Niki from the left and the others above could not care less about many of the issues they comment on. or the art of the possible. They want to take over from the Liberals (sic) and use every subject as a political football. As all the too often, Charlesmcg is the lone voice of reason
One of the funniest comments I have seen on here in ages...
[quote][p][bold]ResidentTony[/bold] wrote: Niki from the left and the others above could not care less about many of the issues they comment on. or the art of the possible. They want to take over from the Liberals (sic) and use every subject as a political football. As all the too often, Charlesmcg is the lone voice of reason[/p][/quote]One of the funniest comments I have seen on here in ages... Giles C
  • Score: -1

11:16am Mon 13 Jan 14

Niki R says...

ResidentTony wrote:
Niki from the left and the others above could not care less about many of the issues they comment on. or the art of the possible. They want to take over from the Liberals (sic) and use every subject as a political football. As all the too often, Charlesmcg is the lone voice of reason
Nonsense. Get your facts right- I back excellent healthcare but not when it's badly located and of no use to anyone but Brendan Hudson and his friends!
[quote][p][bold]ResidentTony[/bold] wrote: Niki from the left and the others above could not care less about many of the issues they comment on. or the art of the possible. They want to take over from the Liberals (sic) and use every subject as a political football. As all the too often, Charlesmcg is the lone voice of reason[/p][/quote]Nonsense. Get your facts right- I back excellent healthcare but not when it's badly located and of no use to anyone but Brendan Hudson and his friends! Niki R
  • Score: 2

12:19pm Mon 13 Jan 14

CPN says...

emelem wrote:
just out of curiosity, what would people opposed to the centre prefer this building be used for?
Thank you for your compliment, charlesmcg
The (paper) Guardian is not delivered where I live. There were no circulars about it until one from one of the Belmont Councillors the other Saturday - none when it was possible to object in an informed and constructive way.
You have a car and bike; I have a car but use it as little as possible, after all this is a "green" borough, and we should not be encouraging driving. Also not everyone drives or indeed is capable of driving - I could not drive for over 3 months after repeated fainting when I was undergoing chemotherapy. And would I have been capable of walking up from the bus stop near Sutton Hospital? no way. As I said before, the first requirement of a surgery for patients who may not feel at their best is accessibility and the Henderson hospital site is not accessible in an easy way.
emelne says "just out of curiosity, what would people opposed to the centre prefer this building be used for?" The building itself will have to come down of course - it is the Henderson hospital land that is being discussed.
I discussed this (informally) with people from Belmont Heights who were at the meeting; it was agreed that a) something needed to be done with the site and b) they would not object to more housing as the area around is residential anyway.
I perhaps should add that all those who spoke against the proposal included Councillors of both parties (for the Lib Dems, Councillors Heather Honour and Richard Clifton, both South Sutton councillors, for the Conservatives Peter Geiringer and David Hicks, Belmont ward). So all those who know the area and the needs of those living around here spoke against this proposal for the reasons already outlined. That is why I said this was not a party political issue - in addition to the fact that when you can't get to your doctor but need to do so, you could not care less what the politics around are!
[quote][p][bold]emelem[/bold] wrote: just out of curiosity, what would people opposed to the centre prefer this building be used for?[/p][/quote]Thank you for your compliment, charlesmcg The (paper) Guardian is not delivered where I live. There were no circulars about it until one from one of the Belmont Councillors the other Saturday - none when it was possible to object in an informed and constructive way. You have a car and bike; I have a car but use it as little as possible, after all this is a "green" borough, and we should not be encouraging driving. Also not everyone drives or indeed is capable of driving - I could not drive for over 3 months after repeated fainting when I was undergoing chemotherapy. And would I have been capable of walking up from the bus stop near Sutton Hospital? no way. As I said before, the first requirement of a surgery for patients who may not feel at their best is accessibility and the Henderson hospital site is not accessible in an easy way. emelne says "just out of curiosity, what would people opposed to the centre prefer this building be used for?" The building itself will have to come down of course - it is the Henderson hospital land that is being discussed. I discussed this (informally) with people from Belmont Heights who were at the meeting; it was agreed that a) something needed to be done with the site and b) they would not object to more housing as the area around is residential anyway. I perhaps should add that all those who spoke against the proposal included Councillors of both parties (for the Lib Dems, Councillors Heather Honour and Richard Clifton, both South Sutton councillors, for the Conservatives Peter Geiringer and David Hicks, Belmont ward). So all those who know the area and the needs of those living around here spoke against this proposal for the reasons already outlined. That is why I said this was not a party political issue - in addition to the fact that when you can't get to your doctor but need to do so, you could not care less what the politics around are! CPN
  • Score: 2

8:10am Tue 14 Jan 14

emelem says...

why can't the building that is there be used? is it THAT run down? or just a case of cheaper to tear down and rebuild? will the quality suffer?

yeah, i don't see why the medical centre can't be put in sutton *hospital* (that place could use some updating, btw!) and perhaps implement a hospital shuttle? (if there isn't already one) seeing as the buses don't exactly go right up to the door. in icy conditions, the older folk might as well be walking to henderson :p

oh jeez, i just had a fright...watch them change their minds and put in a tesco!
why can't the building that is there be used? is it THAT run down? or just a case of cheaper to tear down and rebuild? will the quality suffer? yeah, i don't see why the medical centre can't be put in sutton *hospital* (that place could use some updating, btw!) and perhaps implement a hospital shuttle? (if there isn't already one) seeing as the buses don't exactly go right up to the door. in icy conditions, the older folk might as well be walking to henderson :p oh jeez, i just had a fright...watch them change their minds and put in a tesco! emelem
  • Score: 1

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