Express & Star

U-turn on controversial £8 million Jabez Cliff health centre plans

Doctors behind controversial plans to axe four surgeries and build a new health centre have gone back to the drawing board following a public backlash over the project.

Jabez Cliff was demolished after a severe fire.

Last year a consultation was launched to move Walsall practices Lichfield Street Surgery, Sycamore House Surgery, The Limes Surgery and Saddlers Medical Centre into a new £8m facility earmarked for the former Jabez Cliff leather works site near the town centre.

But the plan prompted huge concerns particularly surrounding parking and access to the site on Lower Forster Street.

A mock-up of the £8m new centre.

More than 400 people who took part in the consultation - 50 per cent - formally objected to the scheme.

While doctors said they would still try to find a solution to the issues at Jabez Cliff having previously argued it was the only deliverable location, they declared they would now look at alternative sites.

It has also been revealed the old leather works has been sold to a new owner.

The latest developments come as dozens of concerned patients met at The Royal Hotel on Monday night to again voice their reservations.

Councillor Rose Martin addresses the residents addressing concerned residents over the Jabez Cliff plans.
Dozens of concerned patients attended the meeting at the Royal Hotel.
Councillor Singh Sohal addresses the residents at The Royal Hotel.


Martin Stevens, a GP partner at three of the practices, said: “We greatly value the views of our patients and will listen to this feedback.

“We will reassess the proposal and try to work out a way to address these concerns.

“The Lower Forster Street site has recently been sold to new developers and we will continue to work with them to consider whether this site remains the most suitable and we will also again explore whether other sites might be available.

“We still believe that a new modern health centre will provide greater access to services, a wider range of services and improved quality health care for our patients.

“We hope that we can propose a development that our patients will support.

“Once we have explored and developed options for new proposals we will again engage with our patients to seek their views.”

Jabez Cliff was one of Walsall's most historic saddle makers.


Dr Stevens added: “The engagement for the proposed move to a new purpose built medical centre on Lower Forster Street ended on Friday January 19.

“We had a tremendous response reaching over 3,000 people. 806 patients completed a questionnaire and we had feedback from local pharmacists, residents, doctors and other interested parties.

“We also had feedback on our Facebook pages and from Healthwatch. Thank you to all of those who took time to listen to our proposal and give us their feedback.

“Of the 806 patients who returned the questionnaire, 406 (50.3 per cent) were not in favour of the proposal.

“The most common reasons given for not supporting the proposal were concerns about parking and access to the proposed site.


Walsall Councillor Rose Martin, who represents the Paddock area, addressed residents on Monday night.

She said: “There was a good turnout and the main issues were parking and accessibility. We are not against the amalgamation but the proposal to go to Jabez Cliff will mean Paddock, Orchard Hills and the deprived area of Chuckery will have no doctors at all and other areas in Walsall south will have more than enough.

“I welcome that they are looking somewhere else.

“Jabez Cliff is completely unsuitable and that’s what residents have told us,” she said.