Plans to open a new GP centre in North London have stalled because the cost to fit it out has more than doubled.
Brent Council has blamed interest rates, rental prices, and inflation for the cost of delivering South Kilburn medical centre more than doubling to £2.2 million, as it ponders a further cash injection to keep the project alive.
In April 2020, the council’s cabinet agreed to invest £3.47 million of funds raised from developers – called the Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy (SCIL) – to deliver three medical centres, one each in Wembley, Grand Union and South Kilburn.
However, the Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) which commissions health services in the area has now said that South Kilburn’s site is “not viable” due to spiralling costs. Originally, SCIL contributions were agreed at £1.104 million, but there is now an additional £1.2 million required to be able to deliver the project.
The ICP has agreed to contribute half of this, so long as Brent Council commits to matching the funds by using an extra £600,000 from SCIL. Council officers have recommended that the cabinet agrees to the terms, which will be decided at the next meeting (September 11).
A report from the council’s Corporate Director of Communities and Regeneration describes the medical centre as an “important part” of the infrastructure for the estate regeneration programme at the Peel development site. It is part of the larger 2,400 home South Kilburn regeneration project
The population on the estate will “almost double” by the end of the programme, according to the report, and the new centre is needed to “help improve health outcomes for all the residents in the area”. Failure to secure the medical centre would “impact on the quality of the primary care offer for residents […] and the council’s reputation”.
The current schedule suggests the site is to be given to the third-party operator, Primary Health Properties, to be fitted out in autumn of this year, before being handed over to the Kilburn Park Medical Practice in 2025.
Due to the funding challenges, the ICP has stated that it is not possible to continue with the delivery of the scheme as it stands. The developer is on site but, if the finances are not secured, Primary Health Properties will not take on the centre and alternative uses for the building would need to be found.
It’s expected that the cabinet will approve the transfer of the extra £600,000 because of the importance of getting the medical centre in place. However the decision would mean there’s less money for other important infrastructure projects in Brent in future.