THE release of £3.2million to pay for a new health centre and church in Basingstoke has been given the green light.

Borough councillors approved the funding for the doctors and dentist surgery in South Ham after placating Hatch Warren councillors, angry at the prospect of losing their surgery.

Under the plan, Dr Hudson and Partners would shut its two existing surgeries in Paddock Road, South Ham, and Morehams Avenue, Hatch Warren, and, with Sharma, Laljee and Associates’ dental practice, move into a purpose-built medical centre on the current Western Way home of St Andrew’s Methodist Church.

The church congregation has agreed to sell a chunk of the land to the council if it pays a nominal fee and builds a new church and hall for them on the remainder.

South Ham councillor Sean Keating welcomed the proposal, saying the existing surgery offered a very limited range of services compared with a modern medical centre.

But Hatch Warren councillors passionately defended their surgery.

Councillor Harry Robinson said: “I think the existing South Ham medical centre is a disgrace, but to say, fine, you’re going to get a great new facility there and we in Hatch Warren are getting absolutely nothing – that’s not right.

“We’ll have no dentists, no doctors. What are we going to provide for the people of Hatch Warren?”

Cllr Phil Heath said South Ham residents had been consulted, but not the taxpaying residents of his ward. “They have a right to be listened to and consulted,” he said.

He asked what would happen to the building and questioned the wisdom of removing a surgery at a time when the possibility of building 2,400 more homes in Hatch Warren and Kempshott is being suggested.

Cllr James Lewin, Cabinet member for finance, property and performance, told councillors: “I do stand by the view that the merits of this decision are overwhelming to the majority of people affected, although there are some losers.”

He said the borough was not a medical authority, but he would use whatever influence the council had with Hampshire Primary Care Trust to see whether any services could be delivered from Hatch Warren.

Councillors passed the proposal, but accepted an amendment from independent councillor Martin Bier-mann that, subject to consultation, the borough would work with the PCT and partners to find a way of maintaining a medical centre in Hatch Warren.