NHS bosses are disappointed with delays in delivering a new super centre which will accommodate four GP practices.
However, developers Watkin Jones are ‘very close’ to achieving hand-over of the Fountains building in Delamere Street, which is scheduled for Monday (March 23).
The centre will house The Elms Medical Centre and Hoole Road Surgery, both in Hoole, plus Northgate Village Surgery and Northgate Medical Centre. There will also be office space and luxury apartments overlooking the City Walls, all centred around an inner courtyard.
NHS England (Cheshire and Merseyside) spokeswoman Karen Kinder told The Chronicle it was ‘very disappointing’ there had been a delay to the original date given by Watkin Jones Group. It had been hoped the health centre would be ready late 2014 although she acknowledged this date was never finalised.
She said: “At this time practical completion, which is the point at which the building can be handed over to the client from the developer, has not been confirmed by the Watkin Jones Group the developers. There remain a number of outstanding items which the developer and their subcontractors are working to complete.”
But Mark Watkin Jones, group managing director, Watkin Jones, insists the scheme is almost ready.
He said: “Our contractual date for hand-over is March 23, 2015 and we are very close to achieving this completion date on what is a challenging and complex project. Before we commit to a hand over date we want to ensure that the building is properly finished.
“We believe that it is in everybody’s interest to fix the completion date once all the systems have been fully tested rather than the operators arranging and possibly having to re-arrange moving in dates. We expect to serve formal notice of completion shortly.”
The development has helped regenerate a down-at-heel part of the city but has proved controversial partly because of the aesthetics but Hoole ward Cllr Bob Thompson, who is the Lib Dems’ parliamentary candidate in Chester, has also complained about moving GP services out of the community he serves.
However, the new centre will include a wider range of services including a pharmacy, dentistry, sexual health, podiatry, physiotherapy, an integrated care team of district nurses and community matrons. There will be two bus stops located at the new premises, one in George Street and the other in Delamere Street.
The Elms Medical Centre in Hoole, which now has planning permission for conversion to a mini-supermarket, told patients: “We have also worked hard with the owners of the car park (council) to provide subsidised car park fees for the first year of £1 for 2 hours parking.”