The start of building work on a new health centre in Dartmouth was marked in a turf-cutting ceremony at the site, next to the town’s park and ride, on Tuesday.
The £4 million health and wellbeing centre will give local people access to a range of services in one place, bringing together GPs, community nurses, therapists, a pharmacy and Dartmouth Caring – a charity that supports vulnerably and isolated people.
Although work has already begun, Dartmouth’s deputy mayor, Graham Evans, along with Dr Tony Anderson from Dartmouth Medical Practice and Iris Pritchard, president of Dartmouth Caring, broke the ground next to the main building site.
The centre, based at the top of town in Dartmouth, is planned to open in the summer of 2022.
The ceremony was hosted by Sir Richard Ibbotson, chair of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust who said the centre would meet: “the enduring and developing requirements for the delivery of health and wellbeing in the 21st century.”
Sir Richard added that the turf-cutting ceremony was a special moment. “In order to get to today and to see the work physically starting on the delivery of the centre is a really significant step forward for all of us, but especially the local community,” he said.
The event was attended by representatives from the town and district councils and a number of local groups including Dartmouth Leagues of Friends, Dartmouth Medical Centre and its patient participation group, Dartmouth Caring and governors of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust.
Interim director of estates planning at Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, Lesley Darke, is leading the delivery of health and wellbeing centres in Dartmouth and Teignmouth. She says people locally welcome the project.
“All of the community are behind the integrated health and wellbeing centre and are really excited now they can see the building starting,” she said.
Ms Drake added that there were many advantages of the centre: “We can provide all of the services under one roof and the building is entirely flexible so we can accommodate changes in services in the future.”
Iris Pritchard was invited to help with the event after spending many years helping local people, initially as a councillor and more recently as president of Dartmouth Caring. She said: “Dartmouth people are wonderful people. I love Dartmouth to bits and it’s a delight to do anything you can for anyone.”
Now that work has begun, South Hams District Council has negotiated the use of nearby sports pitches over the height of the tourist season so visitors can still park and travel into town. The field will provide temporary parking for July and August only.
Good public transport links, as well as on-site parking, will make the new health centre even more accessible. Overflow parking for the park and ride is also being upgraded with 140 new parking spaces.
The project is led by Torbay and South Devon’s strategic estates partner, gbpartnerships. Construction is by west-country building firm, Classic Builders.
Development director at gbpartnerships Ian Tuddenham said: “This is an exciting development for Dartmouth and we are delighted to be working in partnership with the trust to deliver the state-of-the-art health and wellbeing centre. This is the first project to start on site, in what we expect will be a number of developments through SDH Innovations Partnership, the joint venture between Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust and gbpartnerships.”