A doctors surgery’s imminent move to a disused taxpayer-owned office block in Farnham is a win-win for all concerned, a GP and council finance chief has said.
Waverley Borough Council acquired Wey Court East on the corner of South Street and Union Road in December 2017 with hopes to boost council income and prevent more office space being converted to flats in the town centre.
However, after the departure of long-term tenant Ashgate Publishing in July 2018, Wey Court East has remained empty – with the council complaining that demand for office space has reached an “all-time low” post-Covid.
And so it was to Waverley’s delight when the Downing Street Surgery offered to take what the council has described as an “exceptionally long-term lease” on the building.
The surgery, which cares for more than 13,600 patients, is now expected to make the move from its home of more than 200 years at 4 Downing Street by summer 2024 after Waverley planners granted consent for necessary alterations to Wey Court East.
Dr Ed Wernick, GP partner at Downing Street Group Practice, said: “While we will be sorry to leave our current building which has housed the practice for over 200 years, the move is an exciting new chapter for us.
“The new premises at Wey Court East will enable us to continue to provide first-class care for our patients in a state-of-the-art facility with additional clinical rooms, improved technology and larger facilities for staff and patients in a spacious, modern setting.”
There will be no patient drop-off facility at the new surgery, and, like the existing GP surgery at 4 Downing Street, patients will be required to use public car parking facilities when travelling by car.
But the new surgery will offer disabled access to the first floor via a lift.
Waverley portfolio holder for finance, assets and property, Councillor Mark Merryweather, said: “This is a fantastic result for everyone concerned. We’ve been able to help ensure that the practice can stay in the heart of Farnham town centre and allow them to grow and meet the needs of our local community.
“For the council, we’ve been able to secure an outstanding tenant for a building that has been vacant for a very long time and the long-term lease has also given us the certainty to be able to fund significant re-modelling works required to make the building fit for the future.”
The number to call the practice, 01252 716226, will remain the same after the move. But the practice says it will look to change its name after it relocates.