WORK can now finally begin on a new health centre for Colne and surrounding villages – after a seven-year wait.

Talks have been ongoing about replacing the cramped Market Street clinic since around 2005, prompting lengthy wrangles over where it would be located.

And after plans to build a health hub off Dockray Street were scratched two years ago, bosses at NHS East Lancashire returned to their original first choice, the old Kwik Save site in Craddock Road.

Campaigners then had to wait for the NHS trust to overcome funding problems before it was confirmed the finance was in place to renovate sites at Colne, Great Harwood and Clitheroe.

Demolition of the old supermarket building has already happened and in its place will be a three-storey health centre and pharmacy.

Late protests were lodged by neighbours over parking problems on surrounding streets, which are clogged twice a day with parents dropping off and collecting pupils at nearby West Street Primary.

But council leader Coun Joe Cooney said that, while he understood residents’ concerns, he felt that an ‘important development’ for Colne, should not be lost.

Trust officials, attending a meeting of the Colne area committee, confirmed that any delay in their scheme may lead to funding being lost.

Coun Tony Greaves said: “If we are going to have a new health centre for Colne then I think we must pass this tonight.”

But he did outline concerns about parking, particularly in Newtown Street, and said he felt councillors were ‘having their arms twisted’ to accept the trust’s package.

Councillors passed the health centre plan, subject to a traffic management and parking plan, and also asked for a review to be carried out of parking in the Newtown Street area.