Former Debenhams store in Basildon could be turned into medical facility

Planning officers have recommended that an Essex authority approve plans for converting a former Debenhams department store into a medical facility, saying that the project “would add vibrancy and vitality to the town centre”.

An application for the conversion of the vacant three-storey store within the Eastgate Centre in Basildon seeks full planning permission for the creation of a private healthcare facility offering minor surgeries and procedures requiring endoscopy or ophthalmology care, as well as major surgeries such as knee and hip replacements.

In addition, the centre will contain comprehensive diagnostics suites, MRI and CT scanning provisions and patient accommodation for pre and post-surgery periods.

In a report to be presented to Basildon Borough Council, officers said that the proposal would have “significant social, economic and environmental benefits for Basildon including additional health services, and would boost expenditure and footfall within the town centre”.

Despite the applicant providing confirmation that the facility would be funded by insurance and self-paying patients, the centre will not be limited from supporting local NHS services in the future should the need arise.

Out of nearly 1,800 neighbouring properties notified of the proposal, only one letter of objection was received. Although it has not objected to the plans, Mid and South Essex NHS Trust expressed concerns that the applicant has exaggerated the expected positive impact of the facility on the community’s health profile, as it considers the treatments being offered will not assist in areas of under-capacity such as child obesity and adult self-harm.

However, the applicant has since met and held a detailed correspondence with the trust, in effort to offer assurance that the facility will not have a detrimental impact on the existing NHS workforce and provision in the area.

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Emma Doyle

Local Democracy Reporter