Building work has finally begun at the new home for Brackley Medical Centre after the MP ceremoniously 'broke ground' at the site today (Friday, January 11).
Dignitaries, councillors, GPs, former cottage hospital nurses and representatives from the many groups involved gathered at the piece of land off Northampton Road to celebrate the occasion.
South Northamptonshire MP Andrea Leadsom thanked everyone who helped in getting to the stage where construction can start after years of waiting for residents and doctors alike.
Dr Philip Stevens, who has spearheaded the project, said: "Everyone at Brackley Medical Cente and Lowick Pharmacy is delighted that this new medical facility is going ahead.
"We are excited about the opportunities which it gives us to expand the range of services and care which will be available to all the people of south Northants.
"Thanks are due to many people for their help and support with the project over the years to get to this stage."
The 4,200sqm centre will accommodate two merged GP practices, Brackley Medical Centre and Washington House Surgery, as well as a new pharmacy.
As well as improved and extended facilities for the GPs, the three-storey building will accommodate a minor injuries treatment centre, 16 intermediate care beds, transferred from the old Brackley Cottage Hospital, a wellbeing hub, a café and ambulance base.
There will also be 130 car parking spaces and a bus stop has been created nearby.
Initial hopes were for the centre to open later this year, but the developers now say it will open in early summer 2020.
Brackley mayor Mark Morrell said: "For over 30 years people have been trying to get it to this point so it's absolutely brilliant that we're finally here.
"It will be a state-of-the-art facility and it has been so well thought through, I'm very impressed with the concept and what they're looking to do.
"Especially with Mind as one of my mayoral charities this year, I'm thrilled they are going to have a space there as well as well as the wellbeing hub to support those with mental health issues too."
Nurses from the old hospital, which shut in 2015, were among those invited to the ceremony, who were delighted to see the new medical centre starting to be built.
Equally happy was Ms Leadsom, who said: "At the moment there's nothing, since the cottage hospital closed, there's been nothing in Brackley so if you need any medical facilities outside of pure primary care, you have to go to either the Horton [General Hospital] in Banbury, or Northampton General, or to the Milton Keynes hospital.
"But actually having some facilities here, is going to make a world of difference for the population in the surrounding area to Brackley."
The new centre has been designed by specialist architects in the primary healthcare team at real estate advisor GVA, who have been working with GPs from for the past five years on the project.
Tim Scruton, from GVA, said the GPs' current premises are in considerable need of modernisation and the new centre will enable them to offer a wide range of services to patients.
Charlie James from architects Osmond Tricks added that they have done a lot of work with the community to make sure the new centre is fit for purpose.
Site manager Richard Williams said he is keen to offer school trips and other community engagement projects as part of the scheme. Anyone interested should email him at firstname.lastname@example.org