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  • "Here Here. Then they moan when needles are found in hedgerows etc..
    Have these complainants spoken to the unfortunate addicts who are trying to do the right thing and get help..."
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CAMPAIGNERS are fighting an appeal against a decision to reject plans for a pharmacy with a needle exchange and extended opening hours in Gorse Hill.

Swindon Council refused permission in November, following a long public campaign, for plans to open a pharmacy in part of Hawth-orn Medical Centre, in May Close.

Now Eightlands Ltd, the company behind the plans, has appealed to the Planning Inspectorate, meaning an independent inspector will review the case and decide whether to uphold or overturn the decision.

In addition to dispensing prescriptions, the pharmacy would also offer a needle exchange and supervised methadone consumption, which anyone in the town could use.

The pharmacy would open from 8am-10.30pm Monday to Saturday, and 8am-9pm on Sunday.

Swindon’s planning committee refused the plans on the grounds the extra activity at the premises would cause noise and general disturbance for nearby residents, and the lack of parking would lead to vehicles being parked in the road.

Residents and Gorse Hill Neighbourhood Watch also raised concerns that the needle exchange would increase crime by attracting drug addicts and prostitutes.

Maurice Small, 69, of Poulton Street, who is a member of Gorse Hill Neighbourhood Watch, is calling on residents to write to the Planning Inspectorate to give reasons for objecting.

He said: “One hundred letters have gone in already, but we want more.”

Coun John Ballman (Lab, Gorse Hill and Pinehurst), who voted against the plans at the planning meeting, said: “The pharmacy also required as part of its agreement with the PCT to provide a needle exchange and to dispense methadone, so along with residents I’m really concerned about the sort of people that might be coming into the area late at night.”

In the applicant’s submitted reasons for refusal, it refutes the noise and disturb- ance concerns, claiming that a pharmacy cannot be considered a noisy use, and that any increase in activity will be limited to a few patients visiting in the evenings.

The applicant says the proposed pharmacy would operate under a PCT licence and such has to open for a minimum of 100 per week.

On the issue of parking, it states that the council has not demonstrated that insufficient car parking would be available or that on-street parking would prejudice highway safety.

To comment on the appeal, write in triplicate, quoting case reference APP/U3935/A /11/2165905 to The Planning Inspectorate, Room 3/20, Temple Quay House, 2 The Square, Bristol, BS1 6PN.

To comment online, visit The deadline for submissions is tomorrow.

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