A private medical facility, which its developers claim will reduce pressure on the NHS, is set to be built in Buckshaw Village.
The Matrix Park-based unit will treat paying patients, but also plans to carry out tests and operations on behalf of the health service. The bill for those procedures would be paid for by the local NHS, but the treatments would remain free for those undergoing them.
South Ribble Borough Council’s planning committee granted permission for the development in spite of concern over the loss of a car park in the already crowded employment area.
Members heard that the facility - to be run by Ramsay Healthcare - will deliver surgical, diagnostic and rehabilitation services for day case patients, with no overnight stays.
“It will [work] as an NHS partner to deliver a number of significant health benefits - reducing delays to elective surgery, avoidable admissions and delayed transfers of care - and offering shorter pathways of care for the patient, reducing fundamental pressures in the local healthcare system,” said Martin Williams, director of applicants WW Medical Facilities.
The mixed single and two-storey building will contain two theatres, nine outpatient rooms, eight physiotherapy bays and a gym. A mobile MRI scanner is to be sited at the rear of the premises.
It will be built on an area of undeveloped land off Eaton Avenue that is currently operating as a car park used by other businesses in the area. Permission for that was granted back in 2011 - but only on the understanding that the plot would be vacated when its owners decided to develop it.
The facility will have a 90-space car park, but that will be for the use of patients and staff.
Buckshaw and Worden ward councillor Alan Ogilvie told the meeting the committee that he did not object to the proposals “per se” - but was concerned about its “unintended consequences”.
“The right-hand side of Eaton Avenue is already chock-a-block with cars and we know where those currently parked on the temporary car park will go - they will try and find a space in the street.
“If we get inappropriate parking on both sides of the road, I’m concerned how emergency vehicles would get through,” Cllr Ogilvie warned.
But planning officer Debbie Roberts said that the plot, which has been earmarked for development since Buckshaw Village was built, should “not be used to fix the problems of other sites [in the area]”.
The committee voted by a majority to approve the facility, which will create 52 skilled jobs.
Committee member Caroline Moon - who is Buckshaw and Worden’s other ward councillor - said she would abstain so that she “could be neutral for residents in the future”.
It is planned that the unit will be open between 8am and 9pm seven days a week, but no conditions have been imposed to prevent it operating outside those hours.