WINCHESTER'S much-anticipated new doctors' surgery looks set to have cleared the final hurdle after nearly two years of delays.

The new facility, which is set to replace the St Clements Surgery in Tanner Street, had been expected to be built on the Upper Brook Street car park by the summer of 2017.

However, a dispute between Winchester City Council and the GPs has meant an agreement is yet to be signed.

Now, a new report that was signed off by the council's Lib Dem cabinet last week has said terms have been provisionally agreed, and councillors have given permission for the early construction processes to get under way.

However, the report states that as a result of the delays, "the estimated costs to implement the project have increased".

It added: "The forecast position for 2020/21 will be a net deficit position and not a net surplus position as originally forecast."

It also confirmed Lloyds Pharmacy, who had been set to use part of the new building, have withdrawn. Discussions are ongoing with the NHS to use the space instead.

The efforts to move the doctors has been complicated over the years by Lib Dem councillor Kim Gottlieb buying the current St Clements Surgery.

As previously reported, Cllr Gottlieb then bought the St Clements GP surgery in September 2017 – when he was serving as a Conservative – for £1.65m.

The land had been earmarked for regeneration under the Silver Hill scheme, which collapsed after a legal move that Cllr Gottlieb was instrumental in setting up.

Cllr Gottlieb said he bought the surgery to stop the doctors from being evicted and to stop it from falling into the hands of developers.

In a Chronicle exclusive, agents acting on Cllr Gottlieb's behalf were trying to sell it to the council late last year for a figure higher than what he paid for it.

Cllr Gottlieb, in a statement, said: “One of the chief reasons I bought the St Clements surgery was to ensure that the Practice wasn’t evicted by Henderson, or by the Council, before it had a new home to move into. When the legal agreement is finally completed and the construction actually begins, it will represent a vindication of my approach and a success for the new Lib Dem Administration which, in just a few months, will have unravelled problems that befuddled the previous Conservative Administration for some years.

"The other reason I bought the site was to prevent a revival of the much-derided previous scheme. Now that that too is no longer a danger, the site can safely be returned to the regeneration effort in which it forms a key component. The mechanics of that process are still under discussion.”