BARNSLEY town centre’s multi-million pound regeneration project could soon have another unit filled after plans to add a private dentistry service were submitted to the council’s planning board.
If the plans are approved, the five-surgery dental practice will be added at a vacant unit in the Glass Works, adjacent to The Fragrance Shop and next to both Next and Flannels.
A report states: “This planning statement is produced to support a request for the issue of a lawful development certificate for the proposed use of a private dental practice at the Glass Works.
“The works comprise the fit out of a newly-constructed retail unit within a covered shopping centre to form a dental surgery.
“The retail unit is currently a ‘shell’ with incoming gas, water, electricity, fire alarm and sprinkler feed.
“It will comprise five surgeries, an X-ray room, decontamination and associated servicing rooms.
“The works include the erection of a steel mezzanine floor structure and feature a spiral staircase and timber stud walls clad with plasterboard.”
Should the plans be deemed acceptable, the town centre occupancy rate would increase.
The latest figures show that the occupancy rate of the entire town centre, including the Glass Works was 86 per cent while the Glass Works alone was 88 per cent.
A Barnsley Council spokesperson told the Chronicle: “BMBC are in discussion with several occupiers for the remaining vacant units at the Glass Works.
“Further announcements will be made once leases are completed.”
It comes after Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock called on the government to do more to support the dentistry industry which she believes is ‘hanging by a thread’.
Figures from the NHS show 100,302 adults were seen by an NHS dentist in Barnsley in two years 51 per cent of the area’s adult population.
It is up from 46 per cent in 2020 to 2022 but below the rate before the pandemic when 61 per cent were seen between 2017 and 2019.
Separate figures show there are about 140 working in the Barnsley area, meaning each one had the equivalent of more than 1,600 patients on their books squeezing appointment books and subsequently making it increasingly difficult to secure a slot.
However, the number has dropped by 21 per cent since the beginning of the pandemic, leading local leaders and the British Dental Association (BDA) to join forces in a bid to force change.
Barnsley was revealed as one of the worst-hit areas in the country, having lost more than a fifth of its dentists in recent years.
The collapse has left thousands of Barnsley patients unable to get an appointment when they need one, Ms Peacock said.
“The Conservatives have left NHS dentistry to wither on the vine and now the service is barely worthy of the name,” she told the Chronicle
“Patients in Barnsley are told to go without or do it themselves, with ‘DIY dentistry’ now shockingly common.
“People in Barnsley East spoke of professionalism, efficiency and great service when they were able to see a dentist.
“Again, skill is not the issue.
“We desperately need more government funding and an improvement to access.”
Public consultation on the plans end on February 9.