It is now nearly three years since Weybridge Health Centre was destroyed by fire.
In the intervening time there have been conversations involving local councillors, the Weybridge Society, the Weybridge Town Business Group and some local residents on the future of health facilities in Weybridge. The opportunity has been taken to look at how the Public Estate sites in Church Street in Weybridge town centre can be developed for the good of Weybridge. Public Estate sites are those sites owned by public bodies such as NHS Property Services, Surrey County Council, Elmbridge Borough Council.
Discussions on what NHS services there will be in Weybridge town centre began at the same time as NHS England announced that Walk-In Centres were to be decommissioned. For information, there were three Walk-In Centres run by the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG): one in Weybridge, one in Woking and one at Ashford Hospital. NHS England had made the decision that a better service would be provided through doctor-led Urgent Treatment Centres and enhanced GP availability and other services.
The discussions on whether there will be an Urgent Treatment Centre in Weybridge have been carried out by the North West Surrey CCG and have involved a Stakeholder Reference Group made up from councillors, resident representatives from a number of bodies and local representatives from Healthwatch England. There have also been two rounds of public engagement events. A considerable amount of evidence has been collected and considered.
The latest public announcement on this set out the seven options for locating UTCs on the North West Surrey area – covering Woking, Chertsey, Weybridge, Walton and Staines and surrounding areas.
The NWSCCG has now merged with other Surrey CCGs and the new grouping is known as Surrey Heartlands CCG. On their site they say:
Public feedback will be used to shape the clinical model for urgent care services and to reach a preferred option or options. If that leads to a substantial change to any services that are currently provided, a full public consultation would take place before any final decisions are made. This shortlist has been reached following a detailed process involving clinicians, health and social care organisations, voluntary and community sector organisations and members of the public.
This work has been stalled by the Covid 19 pandemic
Town Centre Developments
The Weybridge Society’s most recently published newsletter, Winter 2020 gives a good account of the potential developments in the town centre involving the two Church Street sites.
“Embracing the Society’s WRAP (Weybridge Rebuild and Advance Project) idea, in 2019 SCC secured a £100,000 government grant from the One Public Estate project and is now using it to work out how to combine as many services as possible under one roof. This work includes options appraisal and master-planning to assess a comprehensive regeneration plan of a number of town-centre sites in multiple public sector ownership: Weybridge Health Centre, Surrey County Council Library, Surrey Youth Centre . . .”
Currently Elmbridge Borough Council property is not being considered in the plans being drawn up by Surrey. The EBC sites that were initially considered include the Centre for the Community site and the former EBC bowling green, more recently used for short tennis.
The latest news on developments is that the Library site is currently favoured as the site for locating new NHS provision, which will include GP practices, community health services, X-ray and other diagnostic services such as phlebotomy (blood tests). As no decision has yet been made on locating an Urgent Treatment Centre in Weybridge, design options have to include space for this.
One question now is what other services will be provided on the library site. Ideas include Library provision; community services – as currently delivered at the local Centre for the Community, including lunches for the elderly, meals on wheels preparation, stroke and dementia groups; youth provision; co-working space; a hireable community area for children’s playgroups, clubs, exercise groups and societies; and a public café.
And the old hospital site? To quote again from the Weybridge Society’s Winter 2020 Newsletter:
“Combining these publicly owned sites into a shared building or hub (or other options) has the potential to release land for new housing, deliver new jobs, commercial space, efficiencies and wider economic development benefits to ensure the future vitality and viability of Weybridge’s town centre.”
The pressing need for extra-care accommodation for the frail elderly, and publicly funded care homes, as well as affordable smaller housing units will be all be factors in deciding what will be built on the old health centre site. And all proposals will have to fit with the EBC Planning framework a new version of which is currently being worked on by the EBC Planning team. This framework, known as the Local Plan, was due to be published in draft form during 2020.
As ever, we are interested to hear your views on how our town centre develops – including the benefits you see in this scheme and any problems you can foresee. Whatever happens, this is a once in a generation opportunity to shape how a significant part of Weybridge will look and function in the next 30 to 50 years.
You can email us at email@example.com or ask to join Weybridge Forum Facebook group to put your views and see those of others.