Woolpit's new car park will help ease the strain for Covid 19 vaccinations
A new car park is being built to help ease the strain for a health centre's Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Land next to Woolpit Health Centre has been given to Mid Suffolk District Council by Barratt and David Wilson Homes, who are building homes in the village, and as part of its S106 agreement.
The deal has been brought forward to build the car park, which will then be used for wider community use, post pandemic.
The new car park is being built in conjunction with the West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Suffolk County Council, Woolpit Parish Council.
At present, Woolpit Health Centre has 66 car parking spaces, 30 of which are reserved for staff, leaving 36 for patients (including three disabled spaces).
The spaces are in high demand as additional patients are accessing the surgery to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.
The surgery is currently carrying out up to 60 vaccinations per hour at peak times.
The new car park will offer around 120 new spaces.
Woolpit was one of the first COVID vaccination sites in Suffolk and has already administered thousands of vaccinations at its temporary home at Woolpit Business Park.
This location will return to its original use once lockdown restrictions begin to ease putting more pressure on the health centre.
Work on the first stage of the project, linking the land to the health centre’s existing car park, will begin shortly.
It is hoped the car park will be open by the summer.
Until completion, patients should continue to walk or cycle to the surgery, where possible, to increase the availability of spaces for those with limited mobility.
Dr Ed Garratt, Chief Executive of West Suffolk CCG, said: “We believe the construction of this new car park will really increase ease of access for many people to the health centre.
"The CCG is pleased to have been involved in supporting the development of plans.”
Simon Wood, Managing Director at Barratt and David Wilson Homes Eastern Counties, said: “We’re thrilled to support Woolpit Health Centre as part of our upcoming Abbots Green development and will look forward to enhancing the facility’s car park to support the demand for additional parking for the Covid-19 vaccination centre."
The council is reviewing car parking at other vaccination sites in the district, and has pledged to offer free parking for patients being vaccinated at The Mix in Stowmarket.
Cllr David Burn, Mid Suffolk District Council’s cabinet member for planning, said: “I would like to thank all those involved in this collaborative project.
"Their help is enabling us to expedite plans for a much-needed community car park – ensuring parking spaces are available for critical medical staff and vulnerable residents who are attending their vaccination appointment.”
Mid Suffolk Green and Liberal Democrat Group councillor, Sarah Mansel said: "The land for the carpark forms part of the S106 legal agreement securing community benefits from the David Wilson Homes development.
"It is great news that all parties are collaborating to bring forward the transfer of the land much earlier than originally planned as a response to the COVID pandemic.
"I am also pleased that MSDC officers are helping Woolpit Health Centre staff who have provided an excellent vaccination programme to the community already. Hopefully this new carpark facility will enable this to become even better.”