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MP and councillors back veterinary practice plan

A plan to open a veterinary practice at an office development in Congleton has received more than 200 letters of support.

Among those backing Dr James Ede’s planning application to Cheshire East Council are MP Fiona Bruce, Congleton West Coun Suzie Akers Smith and town councillor Kay Wesley.

As reported by the Chronicle recently, Dr Ede wants to open a veterinary practice at Unit 3, John Bradshaw Court.

He has applied for a certificate for lawful use to establish whether the existing use of the building is legal for planning purposes.

The reasons why dozens of people have contacted the authority to support his proposal include the need for another vet in Congleton due to the rise in pet ownership during the pandemic; because it would be an independent veterinary practice as opposed to a “huge corporate company”, and due to the number of homes that have been built in Congleton in recent years.

Supporters include Sgt Dave Heyhoe, of Congleton, whose IED search dog Treo was treated by Dr Ede.

In his application Dr Ede, who founded Congleton Veterinary Centre on West Heath Retail Park in Congleton, said the practice would bring “immediate” employment of at least two veterinary surgeons, two to three veterinary nurses, two veterinary receptionists and more expected within six months.

The deadline to submit comments about the planning application to Cheshire East has now passed. Among those who had added their support was Coun Suzie Akers Smith, who represents Congleton West Ward on Cheshire East.

She said: “We need additional services to support the population explosion that will be happening in Congleton. The population is set to increase by 10,000, which means many more pets will need looking after and a new veterinary practice would be ideal and support the growing demographic.”

Coun Akers Smith added that the location was “easily accessible” from the north side of Congleton and would support the other businesses in the location and on the retail park.

Coun Akers Smith, who is Cheshire East Council’s walking and cycling champion, added: “It would be a benefit to connect the practice to the track just north of the site and secure cycle parking could be included in the development, and shower, change and locker facilities to support people running or cycling to work.

“These measures would help in encouraging people to actively travel to work and for pedestrians to connect to the business park.”

In her comment on the council’s planning portal Congleton MP Fiona Bruce said: “I understand that the building which is the subject of this application has been empty for over two years and that his proposed occupation of the premises as a veterinary surgery would not only ensure the provision of an independent veterinary practice in Congleton, which I welcome and which I understand would be the only independent such practice in my constituency, but would also facilitate the employment of six or seven people including potentially the opportunity for skills, training and development by a young person or persons going forward.”

She explained that at the time she submitted her comment Dr Ede had said there were around 90 local letters of support for his application, “to which I am pleased to add my name”,” Mrs Bruce said.

Dr Ede said that he had spoken to Coun Kay Wesley during a zoom surgery meeting when she said she would also support the application.

The planning application reference number is 21/5811C. Cheshire East’s decision target date is 16th February.

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