PUBLIC views are being sought on draft proposals for a new, larger health centre for Callington, which are on display at an exhibition in the town hall today (Thursday).

Callington Health Centre was approached by developers Breathe Estates Ltd with a proposal to create a new health centre for the town — almost double the size — which would provide more space, the opportunity for new services and additional facilities.

The developers have earmarked land at Southern Road for the new centre and new facilities which could include additional consulting rooms for visiting specialists; a gym for rehabilitation and exercise; on prescription X-rays and scans; a blood transfusion, chemo-therapy and dialysis unit and a small operating theatre.

The proposals are in the very early consultation stages — no formal planning application has been put together yet, and a formal agreement between the health centre and the developers is yet to be reached, but management partner at the health centre Kathie Applebee said the practice is 'cautiously optimistic'.

'We very much need and want a new health centre but it is very early days,' said Ms Applebee. 'We don't yet have a formal agreement with the developers, so we are cautiously optimistic at this stage.

'We are very keen to have a new centre — Callington is quite a self-contained area and is the only one of the four towns in East Cornwall that doesn't have a community hospital. We already provide a vast amount of facilities, but we are very space constrained.

'If we had a larger building, we might be able to get the NHS to commission more services to us. We are desperately short of space and limited on what we can do in an ageing building — we are operating at almost full capacity.'

Ms Applebee said she believed that following the exhibition the developers will look to make a formal planning application later in the year, influenced by comments received at the exhibition, after a formal agreement has been made between the practice and the developers.

Clerk to the town council Helen Dowdall said that health provision was of great importance to the councillors, who last week gave free training to the public and traders in close proximity to the towns new defibrillator.

She said: 'Councillors are in the opinion that the health service is paramount. Callington is a lot bigger than it used to be and while the existing health centre is working well, with more housing planned, the centre will be strained. Any way to improve health provision will be looked on favourably.'

Cllr Jeremy Gist said he was in favour of the proposal and encouraged the public to attend the exhibition.

He said: 'I hope it goes ahead. I think it is fair to say the existing centre is quite crowded at times and to see a major improvement to healthcare in Callington would be a good thing. Looking at the plans I can see there is room to increase services available such as localised X-ray facilities and possible physiotherapy on site. It could mean that a lot more could be dealt with in Callington. There will be people who haven't been able to park at the current centre, or people that have had to go to Liskeard for physiotherapy.

'I hope people will take the interest to go along to the exhibition, I think most people will look at it enthusiastically.

'The future for health care in the country in general has to be more localised.'

Draft plans will be available for the public to view from 2.30pm to 7pm today in the council chambers in the town hall, and will provide an opportunity for people to make comments about the proposals.