NEW healthcare facilities are a step closer for Southampton residents after bulldozers began ripping up their old clinic yesterday.

The former Thornhill clinic site in Farringford Road is being demolished to make way for a new £1.5m development.

The new clinic is a joint project between the government's New Deal for Communities, Southampton City Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Thornhill Surgery.

A two-storey clinic linked to the surgery will provide one-stop healthcare for residents.

The project has been in the pipeline since 2001 when Thornhill was given almost £50m to be spent over ten years to help give the community a fresh start.

The old clinic consisted of just one room and offered limited services. It was closed in September last year in preparation for the new project, with a temporary clinic being set up at the Eastpoint Centre in Burgoyne Road.

Land for the new clinic has been leased for a peppercorn rent for the good of the Thornhill community by Dr Amrik Benning of Thornhill Surgery.

Due to open early next year, the clinic will offer a range of healthcare services in areas including child and adolescent mental health, contraception and sexual health, speech and language therapy, and dietetic and community paediatrics.

The clinic will also have two fully-equipped dental surgeries, a health education room with smoking cessation services and health and well-being forums, and services for health visiting services including health assessments and a well baby clinic.

Other features of the new building will include improved waiting areas and disabled access, a "play and stay" children's area with protected outdoor garden, and exterior landscaping.