AN APPEAL has been lodged over a refusal to allow office use at the home of a city centre GP practice.

It comes after Winchester City Council's planning committee threw out the bid last summer that would have seen the St Clements building in Tanner Street change to business uses that include offices, research and development or light industrial processes.

Winchester City Council's planning committee heard fears from planning officers – who recommended the bid be refused – that if it were to go-ahead it "would result in the loss of a local facility".

Commenting on the appeal, councillor Kim Gottlieb, who owns the building, said: "The purpose of the application to convert the St Clements Surgery into offices was solely to give the building a viable use, as and when – I stress “as and when” – the practice relocates to new premises on Upper Brook Street.

"It would be a needless waste to leave the building sitting empty as Coitbury House and the Friarsgate surgery were for many years. Until such time as a sensible regeneration plan for the whole area is drawn up, either by the council or whoever, the building could be used as low-cost office space to be let typically to new and start-up businesses.

"Negotiations in respect of the new surgery appear to be making good progress, and I know that the practice and their patients are looking forward to a brand new building which will provide an extended range of facilities.”

Speaking at the time of the application, Cllr Gottlieb said: “As things stand, there is no proposal to develop the broader site and, unlike the council, I can’t afford for the building to be sat vacant for years doing nothing. I am not party to the discussions between the practice and the council, but I understand that the terms offered on the proposed new surgery on the Upper Brook Street car park are still not sufficiently attractive to persuade the Practice to relocate.

"I have offered them a new long lease should they decide to stay put.”

As previously reported, the proposal followed approval for plans to build a new city centre doctors' surgery for the St Clements practice to relocate to, and was expected to be completed by May 2019 before negotiations stalled.