PLANS for a new medical centre and apartment block suffered a setback when town councillors voted against the project.

The application includes a state-of-the-art surgery, pharmacy and a block of extra-care apartments on a section of Martello Caravan Park, Walton.

Developers Ashley House describe the project as the next step in the town’s regeneration.

It is hoped a new medical centre could help attract new doctors to the area, which is in the middle of a healthcare crisis due to a lack of permanent GPs.

Full planning permission is sought for the apartment block, while outline permission needs to be gained for the medical centre and pharmacy – meaning some details could be subject to change before a full application is submitted.

The scheme was discussed by Frinton and Walton Town Council and councillors recommended refusal, fearing it would not be the right direction for Walton to go in.

Jan King said: “I am torn over this. I’m worried about so many extra units going on that site, which will put a massive strain on other facilities in the area.

“We do desperately need a new medical centre, but it is only for outline planning permission at the moment.

“It doesn’t mean it will ever get full planning permission or ever be built at all and, given the current struggles, it doesn’t mean we will get the doctors here to staff it.”

The extra-care apartment blockwould include 48 single-bed apartments and 12 two-bed units.

Alec Moss said: “These units will be a type of sheltered housing and I think it would be unfair if all of these extra people are dumped on Walton.”

Deputy mayor Jack Robertson said he does not want another pharmacy built to rival Walton’s current facility, which recently made a major investment to boost services for residents.

Councillors also raised concerns over the potential effects a development would have on Walton’s sewage system, as well as over the design of the building.

The plans will now go before Tendring Council’s planning committee, which will have the final say on the proposals.