DOCTORS in Wantage have won a battle against a private health care firm.

Mably Way Heath Centre said a 60-bed care home, if built next door, would prevent it expanding to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population.

Last month, Government planning inspector Ken Barton backed the doctors and defended a decision made by Vale of White Horse District Council in May this year to refuse the plan by Ashley House.

Doctors at the centre’s two practices – Newbury Street and Church Street – and Grove medical centre are looking to begin creating a single, giant “health hub” on the site as early as next year.

Newbury Street practice manager Bob Lewis said: “People can now be 95 per cent sure health needs will be met over the next 10 years.

“We have just about got to capacity now, and with all the new housing development that is beginning that need is definitely growing.”

More than 5,000 new homes are planned for Wantage and Grove in the next 15 years, including 2,500 on the Grove Airfield.

Mably Way has 28,500 patients and new housing developments are expected to bring more than 12,000 people to the town, who would require around six more GPs between them.

The British Medical Association recommends 1,600 to 1,800 patients per GP and, on average across the three practices, patient numbers are about 112 above the upper level.

Mr Lewis said the practices would probably look to build an extension that would allow expansion in the next 10 years, but not occupy it all at once.

The entire plot of land on Mably Way is owned by private health care firm Assura, which built the health centre and charges the two practices rent.