A new multi-million health centre is on target to open its doors to patients in Colne next year.
The three-storey health centre on the old Kwik Save site in Craddock Road is expected to be officially unveiled in January.
And while its completion date has sparked plenty of excitement throughout Pendle, concerns have been raised over the future of the present centre in Market Street.
Coun. Tony Greaves said the building is a very important site at the heart of Colne, and its future will have a big impact on the town.
He said: “It is vital that this building is not allowed to stand empty for ages, and it’s vital a really appropriate use for the building – or the site – is found as quickly as possible. Colne is doing amazingly well and we don’t want a hole in the middle of the town centre.”
Coun. Greaves raised his concerns while in the House of Lords - asking the government “what is the proposed use of the buildings and site of the existing NHS Health Centre in Colne, when the new Health Centre is opened in the New Year?”
He told how the Health Minister Earl Howe replied that the local National Health Service Commissioners “have stated that the building will be confirmed as surplus to requirements” and that it will be “vacated and disposed of upon completion of the replacement new centre in Colne”.
The Minister was also said to have added that the building will be listed on the Electronic Property Information Mapping Website, which will give other public sector bodies 40 working days to express an interest in purchasing it.
And Lord Howe said that “if not other public sector organisation expresses an interest, then they will be marketed locally”.
Responding to the concerns Andy Pratt, NHS Property Services Project Director, said: “We are currently in discussions with the local authority and other NHS providers regarding the existing health centre site and how it can be used to benefit local people in the future.
“In the meantime, everything is going to plan regarding the new building and we are currently on target for completion of the new health centre in January, 2014.”
Coun. Greaves has also written to Pendle Council’s chief executive Stephen Barnes to ask for the future of the health centre site to be discussed at the council’s Executive and in high places in and around the council, with a report to the Colne and District Committee in December.