From police station to medical centre : Warwick shows the way
Marlborough.news has been alerted to the example of a town with a redundant police station that is now to become a medical centre.
A dedicated follower of marlborough.news read our story about the uncertain future of the Marlborough police station and how it could become a much needed health or medical centre for the town, and Google (nosey as ever) served them up a similar story from The Courier in Warwick.
Last week plans were approved by Warwick District Council to demolish the town's redundant police station - it closed in 2013 - and build a health centre on the site.
The planning application came from Dudley Taylor Pharmacies Ltd, who will have a pharmacy in the building. It will also house two local surgeries and have 20 consulting room, five treatment rooms, a minor operations theatre and 41 parking spaces (14 of them for staff).
As far as size goes, Warwick and Marlborough are not, of course, equivalent towns. Warwick has several GP surgeries and a population of some 31,000 and is surrounded by suburban and urban neighbourhoods - mostly with their own GP services.
Marlborough has one surgery, 8,394 people (at the last census - but growing quite fast), and serves a wide area of villages - with no very large town closer than Swindon. There are two village surgeries to the east (Ramsbury & Great Bedwyn), bnut none in the south, west and northern villages.
But the two towns do have two important things in common. They both have a number of heritage sites and few if any available empty sites near the town centre. The Warwick site, the Council's planners admit, "is adjacent to Priory Park and is surrounded by a number of Listed Buildings within the Warwick Conservation Area."
However, Warwick's 1950s police station "...is of poor quality design which does not make a positive contribution to the Conservation Area" - and so is ripe for demolition. Marlborough's police station is a recent and good-looking building - in need of conversion rather than costly and wasteful demolition.
The Warwick planning application attracted a big response from citizens - 29 letters of objection and 69 letters in support. One opponent called the new building "...a massive block devoid of character, quality or interest."
The height of the new three storey building was criticised. It will be 2.5 metres taller than the police station - and the Council has asked that the architect should set the building down in the site.
However, most of the responses were in favour. Many people were delighted to see the two surgeries - described as being 'dispersed' around the town - brought so close to the town centre and to public transport.
The new facility for Warwick's GPs will tick plenty of boxes in the government's new plans for the NHS.