A NEW health centre, pharmacy and church are all in the pipeline in a major scheme for a Basingstoke suburb.

Two existing doctors' surgeries run by Dr Hudson and Partners would close and take up residence in a purpose-built facility, which would be located on the site of St Andrew's Methodist Church in Western Way, South Ham.

There was jubilation in South Ham this week at the prospect that the area's long wait for a new surgery could be coming to an end, but concern in Hatch Warren at the prospect of residents facing a longer trip to see their doctor.

The church is prepared to sell a large chunk of its land, for a nominal fee, to accommodate the new health building. In return, a new church - the existing one would be demolished - and hall would be built on the remainder of the site.

In a joint statement, Dr Stephen Hudson and The Reverend Margaret Locke-Wheaton said: "The church and doctors see this as an inspirational way of working together to bring about improved services, both medical and spiritual, for the people of South Ham and the wider community of Basingstoke."

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, which owns the existing South Ham Surgery, in Paddock Road, is being asked to build the new church and health building for £3.2million - a sum it would recoup from leasing the medical centre to the doctors, dentists and pharmacist.

When the borough's Cabinet meets on Tuesday, it is expected to recommend the proposal to the full council.

Councillor James Lewin, Cabinet member for finance, property and performance, said: "The merits of the proposals are overwhelming, but in saying it would be overwhelming, I recognise there are other people who are going to be regrettably affected by a decision like this."

He said he was satisfied, following talks with the practice manager, that steps are being taken to limit any negative impact on patients in Hatch Warren.

Dr Hudson and Partners has 11,257 patients, split between 6,347 in South Ham and 4,910 in Hatch Warren. The practice currently has six partners and one salaried GP, but could expand to eight partners if the move is approved.

Anne Phillips, the practice manager, told The Gazette that more doctors would give the surgery greater flexibility.

"We have more doctors than consultation rooms in South Ham," she said. "We are juggling our rooms between doctors, nurses and health-care assistants."

The new surgery would meet the needs of disabled patients, which the existing South Ham surgery does not, she added.

More space will allow the surgery to expand its obesity and quit-smoking clinics, extend counselling services and establish a minor surgery unit.

Mrs Phillips said: "We really believe the services we can offer to our patients will be improved. We wouldn't do it otherwise."

She added the surgery team wants to discuss the possibility of rerouting a Stagecoach bus service so that Hatch Warren patients can reach South Ham without going via the town centre first, but they are also looking at alternative measures.

Mrs Phillips said that the Beggarwood Surgery, in Broadmere Road, has spare capacity if patients want to change surgeries.

Clara Jones, practice manager at the dental surgery Sharma, Laljee and Associates, said she was "extremely excited" about the idea of their three dentists, a hygienist and a therapist moving from their Paddock Road home.

The practice has about 18,000 patients, the vast majority receiving NHS treatment, but could expand if the move went ahead.

"With more rooms, we'll be able to offer more dentists," said Ms Jones.

The Rev Locke-Wheaton said the proposed new church and hall offers the congregation at St Andrew's more possibilities to serve the community.

She said: "We have been looking for ways to use the site and this seems like a God-given opportunity."

If approved, it is anticipated the medical centre would be ready in spring 2010.