I can report further progress in the plans to develop a new village hall and doctors’ surgery in Westcott. Dorking Medical Practice, which now operates Riverbank Surgery, has received preliminary confirmation from the relevant NHS authorities that the NHS recognises the need to retain a surgery in Westcott. Formal commitment by the NHS is conditional on a number of further procedural hurdles, such as production by the doctors of a detailed business case and approval of financial parameters by the District Valuer, but nevertheless the concept has taken a significant step forward.
The Trustees of the Hut and of the Reading Room met with the partners of Dorking Medical Practice on Friday, 28 February. At such meeting the doctors unanimously confirmed their personal commitment to owning and operating a modern, purpose-built medical facility on part of the site now occupied by the Hut. As soon as the next step in the NHS decision making process is completed, which it is hoped will occur in mid-March, the doctors will commence discussions with their bankers on raising the necessary finance to cover site-acquisition and construction costs.
At the same meeting the trustees of the Hut and of the Reading Room committed to commence a legal process intended to bring about a merger of the two charities which own the sites in Furlong Road and Institute Road. A merger will make it easier to push forward with the redevelopment proposals as a single plan. Such a merger will need approval from the residents of Westcott, who are the beneficiaries of the two charities. The merger process will take some time, but in due course the trustees will publish their detailed proposals, invite comments from residents and then hold such meetings as will be needed.
In parallel with the steps I have already outlined, the trustees and the doctors will work with our planning consultants to obtain outline planning permission for these proposals. We wish to ensure that these are widely supported in the village and intend to hold one or more information meetings as soon as we have worked up more detailed plans with the planning consultants and the specialist architects who are advising the doctors on the specific requirements of the new surgery building.
Chairman, Joint Working Party