Plans to demolish a Walsall town centre building to make way for a multi-million pound health centre are set to be approved despite fierce opposition.

Walsall Council's planning committee will meet on Thursday (March 21) to discuss the plan to bring four existing GP practices together under one roof in a new purpose built facility in place of The challenge Building on Hatherton Road.

But the proposal has been met with opposition from Paddock ward councillors Rose Martin, Waheed Rasab and Gurmeet Singh Sohal who have submitted a petition with 781 signatures of patients worried about the loss of local services.

They said it was hampering efforts to develop a medical centre on Broadway North.

A computer-generated image of how the new health centre could look in Walsall
A computer-generated image of how the new health centre could look in Walsall
 

A second petition with 459 signatures, collected by Councillor Rasab, also objects to the plans.

Once built, the new three storey building will house 54 consulting rooms, support spaces, an optician, pharmacy and a cafe.

Plans released last year said more than £9 million would be spent on the facility and it would bring together the existing Lichfield Street Surgery, Saddlers Medical Surgery, The Limes Medical Centre and Sycamore House Medical Centre.

Walsall Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said the practices held a consultation with patients and received 2,000 responses back.

Of these, more than 60 per cent were in support of the new plan, more than 20 per cent against with the rest unsure or offering no view.

In their response to the planning application the CCG said it 'supports the proposal as the building would replace out-dated surgeries and provide modern healthcare services that the NHS is looking for from Primary Care in future'.

It added: "The CCG is satisfied with the process undertaken as are the Patient Representation Groups of each practice, and is assured that the majority of patients of the four practices are supportive of the development being on Hatherton Street.

"This would be an exciting facility for NHS services in Walsall and a flagship development for the town."

But the Paddock ward councillor's response said: "It is too far from community with no direct bus route on other side of a very congested polluted ring road.

Challenge Building, Hatherton Road, Walsall
Challenge Building, Hatherton Road, Walsall
 

"At this point the CCG, NHS, and importantly the doctors are abandoning the Broadway North site but we are still committed to delivering a health facility on the Broadway North.

"It is closer to patients and the community, a site that has good transport links and ample room for parking."

Members are recommended to approve the decision be delegated to planning officers to grant subject to conditions.