PLANS to build a new health centre in Coleford were rejected by council planners last week amid fears the development would affect bats roosting nearby.

Councillors discussed a proposal from Coleford Family Doctors and the Bruston and Lydbrook practice to build the new centre on land at The Gorse, on the outskirts of the town, at a planning committee meeting last Tuesday (April 11).

Several members of the planning committee had expressed concerns about the accessibility of the site for people relying on buses - a view that was echoed by Coleford Town Council.

And councillors voted to back a recommendation from officers to reject the scheme, following the completion of bat surveys and a dispute between the applicants and ecologists over the size of a “buffer” between the development and a hedge used by bats for foraging and commuting.

Dr Elizabeth Williams, a partner at Coleford Family Doctors, told the committee: “Both the GP surgeries for Coleford Family Doctors and the Brunston and Lydbrook Practice are inadequate for current and future service delivery.

“We wish to continue to provide a wide range of services to the increasing local population.

“The buildings are outdated when trying to provide these high quality services.”

She added: “We can increase expertise and efficiency by providing all our services under one roof rather than being spread over three locations.

“The patients of Coleford deserve a modern, environmentally friendly primary care centre with the benefits it brings.”

Following the decision, a spokesman for the two practices said: “We are considering our options.”