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Pharmacy makes laughing stock of planners
8:30am Tuesday 1st October 2013 in News
MYSTERY surrounds whether or not a pharmacy will be opening in Gorse Hill today, despite the company losing its attempts to win planning permission during two separate bids.
Campaigners, who fought the application for a pharmacy at Hawthorn Medical Centre, were thrilled last year when a planning inspectorate turned down proposals for the new store.
But 13 months later, a notification has been issued alerting residents to the news that a pharmacy will be opening from today, with no new applications being made to the council to secure planning approval.
The original proposals, which were rejected by Swindon Council’s planning team in 2011, were brought by Eightlands Ltd and included extended opening hours and a needle exchange.
The plans were then refused by planning inspector, David Morgan, in 2012 after he agreed with the council that the extra activity at the premises would cause noise and general disturbance for nearby residents.
More than 1,000 people signed a petition against the pharmacy opening, with many residents fearing the needle exchange would increase crime by attracting drug addicts and prostitutes, as well as lead to a rise in traffic.
Morris Small, of Gorse Hill Neighbourhood Watch, said that the developers were making a laughing stock of the planning team.
“It was chucked out once and then it was chucked out again so I can’t see how they are going to open,” said Maurice.
“We don’t make rules for them to be broken. It will be up to the planners to make sure they follow procedures.”
Georgina Stratford, 66, of May Close, said mayhem would break out if the pharmacy went ahead.
“I have never heard of someone going ahead, as they are doing, after they have already been rejected twice,” said Georgina.
“It’s clear the community does not want it.”
Coun John Ballman, who represents Gorsehill and Pinehurst, said: “I think it is wrong of them, given the recent history to go ahead without permission. There is a planning system for anyone who is going to establish a business.”
MP for North Swindon Justin Tomlinson said he thought it showed the company had scant regard for the people of Swindon.
“I think they’re using complex rules to bypass the original planning failure,” said Mr Tomlinson.
A Swindon Council spokesman said: “We are aware that the proposed Eightlands Pharmacy may open tomorrow and a site visit will be made to establish whether this is the case.
“If the pharmacy is open and it is considered that the use requires planning permission then we will take the appropriate action, which could include enforcement.”
The Adver was unable to reach the management of the pharmacy for comment by the time of going to print.
However, a spokesman for NHS England (South) said: “NHS England is satisfied that the provider meets all our criteria to be a pharmacy.”
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