THREE medical practices – and their 30,000 patients – will relocate to the new £20million South Trafford Health and Wellbeing Centre when it opens in 2017/18.

Members of Trafford Council’s planning development control committee unanimously voted in favour of an application to redevelop the vacant Altrincham General Hospital on Thursday February 11.

The vote was taken before the floor opened for debate, with the application approved within one minute of being called forward for consideration.

The Market Street hospital, which has laid empty since services were relocated to the purpose-built Altrincham Hospital on Railway Street in 2015, will be partially demolished and replaced with the health and well-being centre.

Work on the four-storey Health and Wellbeing Hub, which will incorporate a library, pharmacy, café/health retail, public health services and GP practices, will begin in March or April.

Gina Lawrence, chief operating officer, at NHS Trafford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) told The Messenger that two out of three practices have been confirmed; St John’s Medical Centre, on St John’s Road, and Barrington Medical Centre, on Barrington Road.

“It’s all about bringing GPs and the community together. The days of GPs operating out of small, semi-detached houses have to go – it’s archaic,” said Gina.

“The facilities are absolutely what the local people want, with primary and community care in one location. It will make the area really vibrant and will lead to an incredible increase in footfall.”

Certain historical aspects of the building will be retained, including the Victorian façade, original doors, and chimneys.

A basement car park will provide 101 parking spaces and parking will be free for a yet to be determined period of time. Pott Street – which will be renamed Pott Square – will be transformed into a pedestrian priority public square.

The building will be open seven days a week, with GP services extending to Saturdays, and a dedicated out-of-hours service will be offered, meaning patients will no longer be directed to Stockport.

Altrincham library, in Stamford Quarter, will be relocating to the hub.

The library will be located on the ground floor, and will sit alongside Tourist Information, a café and public toilets.

Cllr Laura Evans, Executive Member for Transformation and Resources, said: “The library is moving into more modern facilities, in a much more public space.

“A new initiative between several Greater Manchester councils - The Library Management System – gives Trafford library cardholder access to 2.8million books.

“It offers a huge cost saving, opening up a lot of doors.”

The Altrincham hub, which form part of Trafford CCG’s long term strategy to increase care within communities throughout Trafford, is part of an overarching aim to modernise provision for residents.

Four hubs will be created across the borough – including the £20m Limelight (Shrewsbury Street) in Old Trafford. Trafford CCG is currently at looking for sites for a Sale hub and another is mooted for north Trafford.

Gina Lawrence added: “The people of Trafford deserve nice buildings. One issue with massive foundation trusts is that they spend huge amounts of money on their estates. We need to come up to that standard. You need to have the experience as you do when you go to Central Manchester University Hospitals – and why shouldn’t you? It’s exactly the same thing.”