FORMAL plans to build a £2.8m extension to nearly double the size of The Harbours Medical Practice, Cockenzie, have been lodged with East Lothian Council.

The planning application, on behalf of NHS Lothian, details alterations to the current building on Avenue Road, an extension to the rear of the building and the erection of bicycle racks and fencing.

There are currently five GP consulting rooms, two doctors’ rooms, a consulting clinic, treatment room and a test room at the health centre.

If the proposals are approved, there would be nine GP consulting rooms in total, a nurse consulting room, two treatment rooms, two community clinics and a phlebotomy/healthcare assistant room.

The plans also show an additional three GP training rooms, an interview room, a library/meeting room and a health education room.

The size of the building would grow from 532 metres squared to 936 metres squared, and the waiting room area would increase from 44 metres squared to 72 metres squared.

The existing building will stay relatively the same, with some reconfiguration in order for the extension to be joined onto the building and some of the rooms repurposed.

A spokesperson for the practice said: “The building has not been fit for purpose for many years, with continual pressure and a struggle to accommodate current services within the building.

“The extended premises will improve this working situation. It will enable training of medical students and future GPs.

“The overall service to patients and the capacity for them to be seen by healthcare professionals within the team will undoubtedly be enhanced with the completion of this long-awaited project.”

The practice will remain open during the work.

NHS Lothian confirmed the building was due to open some time this year but said it was unable to provide information about whether the extension would bring more GPs to the practice, as the plans are still in early stages.

The news has been welcomed by the community.

Bryan Hickman, chair of Cockenzie and Port Seton Community Council, said: “I think everyone here is delighted that it is actually happening now – it’s been a while in planning but it’s good news. I’ve looked at the plans and it looks like the doctors will increase.”

Ward councillor Fiona O’Donnell said: “This is another significant step in the much-needed expansion of the Harbours practice.

“I know that some were doubting it would ever happen and I have been closely monitoring progress at the health board and council.

“The Harbours’ Patient Participation Group, who give a voice to local patients, have been active in pushing for the expansion and involved in the planning process.

“As a patient, and from visiting the practice, I have seen first-hand the real difficulties staff have faced. The extra space will give the practice the opportunity not only to improve the physical environment for patients but also to develop new services.

“We have a great team at The Harbours and this will mean they have the space to meet the future needs of our communities.”

Fellow ward councillor Lachlan Bruce added: “I am delighted that the plans for the extension to The Harbours Medical Practice have been submitted.

“More GP capacity is much-needed in the areas served by the medical practice, especially with the house building coming in the area at Longniddry and Blindwells.”

While ward councillor Neil Gilbert said: “I’m sure everyone will be looking forward to the improved services and indeed new services that will become available.”