THE APPROVAL of plans to build a new health centre in Callington have been welcomed — but the project turning into a reality will depend on NHS funding becoming available in the future, health officials this week warned.

Property and construction consultants PH Warr were granted outline permission by Cornwall Council last Thursday for a health care centre comprising doctors' surgery, dental surgery, childcare centre, a nursing home, dementia care centre and extra care flats on land at Southern Road.

With the current health centre in Haye Road struggling to cope with numbers, the news that a site is now been allocated has been welcomed by town and borough councillors and health staff, but there is a question mark over how the project will be financed.

Management partner at Callington Health Centre Kathie Applebee said: 'We desperately need a new health centre. It is classified as 50% too small for our needs. Every room has been given over to clinical care and much of the admin services have been transferred over to the Gunnislake surgery.

'We have crammed everything in and it's bursting at the seams but we are not the top priority in Cornwall and Devon — there are other surgeries in greater need than us for a bigger premises. At the moment there is no NHS funding available, the NHS is strapped for cash so it's all dependant on that really.

'We are very pleased that there is now a site available but our patients have read the headlines and think it is happening imminently and it's not. We will have to see what happens over the next year.'

Ms Applebee said Callington was the only large town without a community hospital in the area — Liskeard, Launceston and Saltash all had one and there was so much more that could be provided at Callington, with a new health centre offering extra services and clinics.

If the plans by PH Warr are put into action, the site could potentially create up to 200 jobs in the area. The company has agreed to contribute £384,000 towards affordable housing, a 2,000 square metre communal garden and will subsidise a £78,000 town taxibus for two years.

Cornwall Councillor for Callington Andrew Long said: 'Callington's existing health centre is running at 50% over capacity at the present time and everyone who goes there knows how difficult it is to park and to get appointments, so this new proposal, which includes a dementia care centre and sheltered housing, has to be welcomed.'

'The important thing now will be for the Town Council and Cornwall Council to work with the applicants to ensure that this becomes reality.  This application, however, may put into doubt the application for yet another new care home, the sixth in the town, which was approved by East Planners last week off Saltash Road.  It remains to be seen whether that application is now sustainable.'

Cllr Long has worked with the town council, the applicants, and Cornwall Council planners on the new health centre proposal for a number of months and changes were made to improve access following discussions.

A spokesperson for the developers said the new centre would be built as part of an 'expansion and relocation' of the existing centre currently in Callington and said it could only benefit the town, providing more accommodation and jobs.