An 88-page Shrewsbury Health and Wellbeing Hub project initiation document, made public shortly before an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday night – shows plans for a joint scheme to build the center and rebuild the Meole Brace park and promenade to become the “Shrewsbury Connect” transport interchange.
In the document, the NHS Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin Integrated Care System (ICS) accepts that it “could create health inequalities” for patients who do not have their own transport, but the body also states that the center “would have the best public transport possible”. links covering all of Shrewsbury and the surrounding area”.
Transportation has been a major bone of contention on this project, with patients from all six surgeries involved expressing concern about how they would get to the center if their local surgeries closed and moved.
NHS Shropshire Telford and Wrekin ICS shared few details at the public meeting, however more is included in the document.
It says: “Discussions have been taking place with Shropshire Council about the possibility of a joint development project being delivered on the Meole Brace Park and Ride site. This project would see the existing site being redeveloped to deliver the Cavell Center ( the health center) and a new Transport Interchange that would form part of the Shrewsbury Connect network.
“Accessible, efficient and sustainable multimodal transportation hubs play a key role in creating a gateway for towns and cities to prosper and enable local areas and businesses to reach their full potential. Safe and secure transportation infrastructure easily accessible can help passengers carry out their journeys quickly and efficiently. This can be combined with an integrated approach to service infrastructure that provides highly connected services, such as health care, to the public.
“This innovative approach would see the future deployment of electric vehicles operating from the transport interchange creating a sustainable transport link across Shrewsbury that would have healthcare at its core.”
The site could also have retail facilities including a coffee shop or restaurant to try and generate more money.
The proposal is to have three colour-coded routes covering Shrewsbury. The center would be located on the Green Meole Brace line.
“There are likely to be concerns from patients that they will have to travel further to see their GP,” the document also says.
The project team has recognized that detailed engagement and consultation will be required regarding concerns that patients may have about long-distance travel. Where people do not have their own transportation, this could be a problem and potentially create health inequalities. Therefore, it is important that transportation systems are considered to prevent this from happening and integrating the two projects would provide the Cavell Center with the best possible transportation links.”
Around 200 people, including protesters against the plans, attended the meeting Tuesday night at St Chad’s Church.
Councilor Kate Halliday, chair of a Shrewsbury City Council multi-party task force set up to examine the plans, said councilors had been “inundated” with emails from people concerned about the proposal. She read several questions from members of the public asking specifically about the topic of transportation.