A COMMUNITY sick of waiting for a new health centre should see work start on the development next month.
Plans to replace the small, outdated doctors surgery on Durham Road, Chilton, have been in the offing for around 14 years but a series of setbacks and changes behind the scenes prevented work starting.
Now the team leading the project is hopeful that builders can get construction underway in little over a fortnight, with a view to opening the facility around the turn of the year.
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Durham County Councillor for Chilton, Christine Potts, said: “To see the ground broken and foundations go down will lift the spirits of people in Chilton.
“It has been going on such a long time, the existing surgery serves the community but a new one is well overdue.”
A proposal to replace the town’s existing surgery, in Durham Road, was first made public around 2000 and was meant to coincide with the wider regeneration of Chilton and the creation of a bypass.
Over the years the project has involved the NHS, the former Sedgefield Borough Council and Sedgefield Primary Care Trust and a housing association.
Eventually Ferryhill and Chilton Medical Practice, which has been involved from the start, decided to take the lead and teamed up with Burgess and Hyder Dental Group to create a one stop health shop.
Land in Dale Street, which was cleared of housing as part of the regeneration scheme, was purchased and planning permission secured in 2012.
Partner Dr Martin Orlandi said: “The people of Chilton deserve a new surgery, modern facilities that can provide the services they require.
“We are just waiting for a lease to be rubber stamped by NHS England, which we’ve told should be in two weeks, then we can see bricks put in place.
“We have 1,600 patients and have reached capacity at our Ferryhill surgery, we need more space and the new premises will incorporate our practice, the dental group and hopefully a pharmacy and other medical services all under one roof.”
Coun Potts added: “Everybody in Chilton is 100 per cent behind these plans, it is a credit to Dr Orlandi they are so close to happening after what has been an uphill battle at times.
“To see an investment in the centre of the west part of Chilton, just off the middle of the village, will be a huge lift and really improve the appearance of the area.
“With lots of new housing having been built and more planned a new health centre is even more of a priority than it was before.”