People are calling for answers over plans for a boarded-up building on the former Body Shop site in Wick.
Residents living nearby say the building is an ‘eyesore’ as most of the windows have been smashed and boarded up. They are also fed up of youngsters ‘hanging out’ in the car park.
The building, which used to house the Body Shop, is now owned by Morrisons, which built a supermarket on part of the site. Arun Medical Group, which has surgeries in East Preston and Littlehampton, is due to move into the empty building which will form part of an Enterprise Hub, but a date has yet to be announced for the move.
Resident Michael Barnes, 75, who lives opposite the site in Courtwick Lane, said: “I was there when Princess Diana opened the building. It’s been left for a year. It currently attracts vandalism, they throw stones and hang out in the car park.
“I really want to see it occupied. They have got a shortage of hospital beds and the building could be used for that. It seems such a waste for it to be empty all this time. I spoke to the security guard one evening and he said all I can do is report a break-in.”
Neighbour Sheila Warwick, 68, added: “Here we are, a year later, nothing has been done, and the building is beginning to look a wreck. If they are going to make it into a doctors surgery, then get on with it. It is just going to get worse and worse and it has become a real eyesore.
“I thought it was a done deal. I look out to my front window and I can see it. No news has come out about it. This is the worst thing, when you are told nothing.”
Roger Chandler, 72, of Lyminster Road, was looking forward to the new surgery, as he and his wife currently have to travel into Littlehampton to collect repeat prescriptions. “It is such a shame because we were really looking forward to the idea of having a doctor’s surgery because there isn’t any around here. There have been several talks, but no action,” he said.
Morrisons was granted planning permission for the Wick supermarket in 2012, with a condition to convert adjoining offices into an enterprise hub for small businesses. But the supermarket giant failed to comply with the planning condition, and has failed to reach an agreement with the NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, the body responsible for the planning and commissioning of health care services for the area.
Councillor James Walsh, vice-chairman of West Sussex County Council’s health overview and scrutiny committee, said: “I am shocked that the CCG has not achieved a deal with Morrisons. It has been run for three or four years and it is not on.”
Rich Hornby, chief financial officer at NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG, said: “We are very sorry to hear the concerns of local residents about the current state of the building and we, like them, cannot wait to make the move of Arun Medical Group to Courtwick Lane a reality.
“We are in the process of agreeing Heads of Terms but this has taken longer than we would have liked. We are determined to do all we can to make this move happen and we will continue to keep patients, the public and the local community updated.”
An Arun District Council spokesperson said: “Arun is working with NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG to help Arun Medical Group move to Courtwick Lane as soon as possible. It is disappointing however, that Morrisons has taken so long to agree terms for the GP surgery and at the same time failed to deliver the Enterprise Hub project. The council is now taking further advice and is considering the most appropriate enforcement measures to resolve this continuing breach of planning control.”
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