COUNCIL chiefs in Carmarthenshire have decided to buy land at Cross Hands to help the region’s health board deliver a new health and wellbeing centre.
The authority has been leading on the redevelopment of the land at a former tip site at Cross Hands, along with a private sector partner called George LB.
The £6 million joint venture arrangement for the 56-acre site has led to the delivery of a retail park and houses, with more houses to come.
Last week, outline planning approval was given for the community health and well-being centre on the remaining chunk of land.
But the council’s executive board heard at a meeting that the scheme – put forward by Hywel Dda University Health Board – could be at risk unless the authority intervened.
The executive board report said this was because George LB was reluctant to commit now to a sale of the land to Hywel Dda, because a Welsh Government funding commitment for the new facility was unlikely before the end of 2020 – at the earliest – and there was no guarantee that the sale would complete.
On this basis the health board would be unable to prove to the Welsh Government that the scheme was deliverable, as it needs to.
Council chiefs, therefore, have decided to buy George LB’s 50% stake in the land – costing £315,000.
Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I think it’s about time that this does happen. It’s a very important project which has been promised for many years.”
The £315,000 purchase will take place when the Welsh Government approves the health board’s outline business case for the health and wellbeing centre, which could be next month.
At the same time the council would exchange conditional contracts with the health board for £630,000 – the full price of the land.
In the unlikely event of the scheme not going ahead the council would be able to dispose of the site, subject to planning.
Cllr Davies, executive board member for education and children, said: “Of course there is mention of risk for us as a council.”
But he said the sum involved was relatively small, and that the risk was not huge.
He added: “I think we can sell the land, and I’m sure we will get our money back, but I don’t want to see that happen – I want to see the project going forward.”
GP practices at Tumble and Penygroes, the council, Dyfed-Powys Police and Swansea University are also working with the health board on the planned centre.
Llannon councillor Dot Jones said she approved the scheme in principle but was seeking clarification on matters including public transport to and from the centre.
Speaking after outline plans were approved last week, Llannon councillor Emlyn Dole said the centre was meant to have been delivered by 2015, two years after the closure of Mynydd Mawr Community Hospital.
He said: “I am pleased that progress is now being made to deliver a facility which brings together primary care, community nursing, social services and a range of other public services.”
Gorslas councillor Darren Price added: “With a library, cafe and community police office, in addition to the health and care services, the centre has the potential to become a real community hub.”