Bloemfontein Road Development Gets Go-Ahead

Multi-million pound complex will include polyclinic, shops and homes

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Plans for a major new development in White City’s Bloemfontein Road got the go-ahead at a recent council planning meeting.

The multi-million pound scheme, comprising a health centre or  ‘polyclinic’, shops, offices and over 170 new homes, will be built on the site of the former Janet Adegoke Centre and part of Wormholt Park. It will also incorporate the social services buildings on Sawley Road. Wormholt Park itself will also get a facelift as part of the development.

The new building complex will be made up of social services offices, an IT café and community hub at the southern end while the polyclinic will be to the north, with housing on the floors above.

The development will include 179 apartments, almost 40 per cent of which fall under the banner of 'affordable homes' and 'shared ownership'. Twenty of these are flats for wheelchair users, the council says.

Dr Dagmar Zeuner, joint Director of Public Health for the council and Primary Care Trust, said: “It is no secret that residents in the area have the poorest health in the borough. This new facility will pave the way for a better and healthier future for so many people. The improved park area and new retail & housing that come with the project will also have a positive impact bringing new jobs and new open spaces for people to use.

“It’s excellent news that the planning permission has been approved. Next we have to get the diggers on site and get the doors open as soon as possible.”

However, Shepherd’s Bush MP Andy Slaughter says planning permission for the development should have been granted two years ago: “It should have been granted in May 2006, the month the Tories came to power in Hammersmith. Had it been, 30,000 people in White City and Shepherds Bush would have been benefiting from the first polyclinic in the country, bringing new walk-in, extended hours’ GP services, NHS dentists and a range of other medical facilities together in a purpose built state-of the-art centre.”

The new health centre will comprise GPs’ surgeries, dentists, a pharmacy and a range of other services such as podiatry, day surgery, district nurses and health visitors, all under one roof. There will also be mental health, radiology, and speech and language services. 

But the polyclinic model has been controversial, raising fears that centralised health services might sever the relationship between GPs and individual patients.

A British Medical Association survey of consultants concludes: “60 per cent of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed that polyclinics would improve the quality of patient care and almost two in five disagreed or strongly disagreed that polyclinics would improve patient access to treatment.”

“We will be seeking much more clarity about how super-surgeries will affect our existing GPs and assurances from the Primary Care Trust that these plans really are a step forward for local people,” said Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh.

There have also been concerns that polyclinics might lead to the closure of some GP surgeries, forcing patients to travel further to see a doctor.

Hammersmith and Fulham is currently served by 33 GP surgeries.

But Health Secretary Alan Johnson has pledged that no current GP practices will be closed or lose funding as a result of the polyclinic scheme. “The 150 super-surgeries will be in addition to existing ones and come with extra money,” he said.

24 July 2008