THERE was delight in South Ham this week after details of the plan to relocate the doctors and dentist were unveiled after a seven-year hunt for a new home.

But the joy there was not matched in Hatch Warren, where the prospect of losing the doctors' surgery was met with dismay.

During the long search for a base for the medical centre, other sites were looked at and rejected.

The existing Paddock Road site and St Peter's Church were thought too small, Stag Hill amenity land and land beside St Joseph's School in St Michael's Road would have caused an unwelcome loss of open space and the availability of a corner of Aldworth Science College was too uncertain.

Russell Howard Park was also considered, but St Andrew's was preferred.

South Ham ward councillor Gerry Traynor said: "I'm extremely delighted that at last we seem to be getting somewhere."

And fellow South Ham member Cllr Sean Keating said: "I greet these proposals with open arms. I know it's the best site because I have been involved in the examination of all the other sites."

But the proposed combined surgery faces opposition from some Hatch Warren and Beggarwood councillors.

Cllr Dan Putty said: "I'm upset at the surgery closing in Hatch Warren."

He said many of the residents in his ward, particularly the elderly, would find it expensive to take the bus into the town centre and then out to South Ham but would not want to change their doctor.

"They say that they are going to suffer and I'm going to suffer with them because I'm going to have to deal with how they're catered for," he added. "I want the people of South Ham to have their surgery, but not at the expense of mine."

Cllr Phil Heath questioned the strategic thinking behind shutting a surgery in Hatch Warren when the prospect of more housing being built in the area could increase demand.

He was unhappy with a community facility shutting in Hatch Warren and wondered why the council was financially supporting a private business.

"We are becoming a mortgage lender effectively," he said. "By doing that, we are actively killing off the surgery and there's no guarantee that building in Hatch Warren is going to be used for anything else. The council will have to take it over and that will cost the taxpayers money."

The doctors' practice owns the Hatch Warren site and the council owns the Paddock Road site. Both organisations said it was too soon to say what would happen to the vacant site if the move happened.

The third Hatch Warren and Beggarwood ward councillor, Cllr Harry Robinson, accepted the doctors needed more room to expand.

"I'm not happy but I can understand their reasons for doing it," he said.