Bunbury Primary Care Centre
Tarporley, Cheshire, England
The transitional success of farmland to Primary Care Centre in Bunbury.
Rising to the challenge was integral to our work on a new primary care centre in Bunbury – a pretty village nestled in an affluent Cheshire commuter belt.
We were tasked with finding a new home for the village’s three-doctor practice operating out of a very small converted house. It included a dispensary, but one of the consulting rooms was upstairs and not compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), while car parking was limited. Despite having a small catchment in terms of patient numbers, the surgery was bursting at the seams and simply wasn’t sustainable.
Something had to change, and if it couldn’t be done in Bunbury, it would have to be done elsewhere – leaving residents, particularly the elderly, stranded for local healthcare.
Prime established that the GPs needed a suitably-sized, two-storey building, but to find a piece of land for a large doctors surgery and car parking in a high value area such as Bunbury was a challenge. It was set in a tightly-drawn settlement boundary, surrounded by protected land, and there were few options to buy a plot suitable for the project.
However, on the edge of the village was farmland that fitted the bill. Through constructive negotiation with the parish council, the local council and planning authority, Prime made a justifiable case to change the use from agriculture to a GP surgery.
We overcame numerous hurdles along the way – the land release, bringing doctors, planners, councils and the local health authority on side – and liaised regularly with the local community to listen to their views. Once we got the go ahead to use the land, Prime made the project work because everyone could see the health benefits.
The design of the centre was another challenge, to make it blend into the surroundings. There was no local vernacular, with a mix of buildings from different eras, including an impressive Tudor church. There were examples in the area of buildings from the arts and craft movement, and there was a desire for a surgery that mimicked this period. This was interesting in a primary care setting, as the design needed to blend into the more regimented inner workings of a primary care centre. We created a unique white rendered building with curved roof tiles, finished with a green powder-coated effect to the guttering and downpipes. There was a nod to the arts and craft movement with its window arrangement, and a false chimney gave the impression the centre had a central fireplace.
It resulted in a modern new medical centre spread across two stories and featuring community health services, dispensary, GP training practice with a dedicated treatment room, improved car parking and a minor surgery suite for the first time. This suite was a huge benefit, meaning longer journeys to access certain services and treatments would no longer be necessary. The project also allowed the practice’s GPs to continue offering services from their rural location – right on the doorstep of the patients they served.