Doctors will not contest chemist decision as eyes turn to planning
There will be no appeal against NHS Shetland’s decision to allow a chemist shop in Main Street in Scalloway, it emerged this week.
A body of doctors has opted not to contest the recent approval of Norsepharm Ltd’s proposal which left rival bidders Melbyhealth Ltd out in the cold.
Their decision comes despite widespread opposition to Norsepharm, which hopes to develop its pharmacy near the Kiln Bar.
Melby’s plans – headed by Scalloway doctors Paul and Philippa Veenhuizen – were seen as more attractive in the community because it promised to feed profits back into the doctor’s surgery. The Scalloway practice relies on a dispensary to help generate up to a third of its income.
Neither doctors nor members of the public are allowed to appeal against the decision made recently by the Pharmacy Practices Committee – a body made up of pharmacists, advisers and lay people – to approve Norsepharm.
Instead it has been down to an Area Medical Committee to consider evidence and decide the merits behind an appeal.
Dr Paul Veenhuizen said the AMC had decided against supporting Melby.
“We, as doctors, can’t appeal. The AMC can appeal, and they had a meeting … but they decided there was no new argument to support an appeal against the decision.
“All the arguments have already been brought forward, and there was nothing new we could say that would change their minds.”
Dr Veenhuizen said he was counting on support that has been promised by the health board to help weather the financial storm.
“The health board have offered help, and there are three people coming to speak to Philippa and me to see what we can do about the financial situation if the [Norsepharm] pharmacy opens,” he added.
The case for Norsepharm is not cut and dried yet, however.
The new pharmacy will be debated again in an open forum after objections to the project were lodged with the SIC’s planning department.
A shortfall in parking and an increase in traffic are two of the main reasons behind Burra and Scalloway community councils objecting to the proposals.
The planning department was due to approve the pharmacy through delegated authority, meaning it would not need to be debated by councillors.
However the objections mean an open hearing into the application will now be held in the council chamber before the new premises can be built. It is not yet known when the hearing will take place.
Concerns have been raised the new pharmacy may prove to be a blot on the landscape.
Local hotelier Peter McKenzie who runs the nearby Scalloway Hotel said the new building, planned for a conservation area, would ruin the sea view that is fast becoming a focal point in the village.
Mr McKenzie, who bought the hotel three years ago, said much of Scalloway’s appeal will be lost should Norsepharm’s plans come to fruition.
“I’m not happy that this will cover what is supposed to be a conservation area, as it will make a mess of the waterfront,” he said. “I have a vision of pontoons, tables and chairs for the area, but this is short-sighted.”
He raised concerns over parking provision in Main Street. He said a survey into parking in central Scalloway – carried out in January – may have been when there was heavy snowfall.
He added that turnover at the hotel had doubled in the three years since he took over.
“The fact is we’re investing £10,000 in this business, and it’s very short-sighted. There are nice things here. We’ve got the shop and the butcher’s. It’s a nice place to come to.
“We’ve been pretty busy, but it won’t be so nice if instead of a sea view it’s a pharmacy view instead.”
However one of the men behind the Norsepharm application, Torquil Clyde, insisted the new pharmacy would be good for the area.
“Having a pharmacy in Scalloway will really improve peoples’ healthcare and offer a real opportunity for people to see a clinician, and I think it’s a good thing for the town,” he said.
Asked whether he thought the new building would blend in with the surrounding area, he said: “I think it’s a high quality design that we’re talking about. It’s not just a box. It has interesting design features. It’s designed to be a modern contribution to the village.
“If the other alternative is to just expand the car park on the shore front, I don’t think that’s good for a historic village either. Change is always something people would find difficult. I think in the long term it will be a good contribution.”