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Church of England withdraws planning application to evict GP practice

The Church of England’s property arm has withdrawn its application to a evict a GP practice in order to convert its premises into a luxury home.

The London practice’s landlord, the Church Commissioners, submitted a planning application last month to convert the practice’s Grade II-listed premises into a seven-bedroom, four-bathroom house and relocate the practice to new premises around half a mile away.

Yesterday, Connaught Square Practice in Westminster told Pulse that moving premises could result in closure for the practice if unaffordable rent made its survival ‘unfeasible’.

However, the Church Commissioner told Pulse today that it has withdrawn the planning application following backlash from the public on the proposals.

Over 300 responses to the plans were received after Connaught Square Practice launched an appeal asking its 8,000 patients to oppose the planning application.

A spokesperson from the Church Commissioners said: ‘The Church Commissioners has withdrawn its application to convert 41 Connaught Square medical practice to its original use as a private residential dwelling and the linked application for a new NHS medical centre at 1 Sussex Gardens.’

They told Pulse that the Commissioners decided to withdraw the application in order to ‘consider feedback and views from the public who have been in touch about this’.

Harry Warren, patient communications lead at Connaught Square Practice, told Pulse that the practice is looking forward to continuing with ‘business as usual’ following the ‘victory’.

He added: ‘Of course, we’re pleased. We received just over 300 responses from a list of 8,000 patients. It seems that the right thing has happened.

‘You can imagine just what the response would have been if the city council had accepted it, but [the landlord] withdrew it because they recognised it was unlikely to be successful.’

Mr Warren added that there are discussions underway to add an additional consulting room to the current practice premises.

The Church Commissioners said: ‘We remain committed to delivering an improved NHS medical service which offers steps-free access, more consulting rooms and reduced waiting times within the Hyde Park Estate in due course.’

Earlier this week, Pulse reported on a number of GP practices at risk of bankruptcy because NHS Property Services were asking them to pay rent where lease agreements are yet to be agreed.