A NEW Crediton pharmacy can be built thanks to a loan from Mid Devon District Council.

The town’s new £8 million health hub – opened in 2021 – was mostly paid for by the NHS and partly funded by a loan of just over £2 million by the district council, repayable on a commercial basis.

Now the council has agreed to loan a further £240,000, repayable over 13 years, to build a new pharmacy attached to the Redlands Primary Care building on Joseph Locke Way.

Recommending the loan, a report says that the pharmacy will bring “benefits to the residents of Crediton and the surrounding area.

“The council consider this an opportunity to lend funds to a suitable stakeholder that will provide a good rate of return on our money, over and above that currently achievable in the current economic conditions.”

The tranche of cash is intended to be at the same commercial basis as the existing £2.175 million loan, thus avoiding any state aid issues, and the council’s legal advice and other costs will be paid for.

The report also claims there will be climate change benefits, explaining that “providing a local pharmacy solution will reduce the need for residents to travel to get their medical supplies”.

Cabinet member for finance, Councillor James Buczkowski (Lib Dem, Cullompton St Andrews) told a meeting of Mid Devon’s cabinet on Tuesday, June 6, that it will replace a former pharmacy from one of the two former GP surgeries that merged when the new building was opened.

Asked why the council was supporting a commercial business, he said: “More and more NHS services are being pushed to pharmacies to be provided for the community so I see a pharmacy more as a community service than a profit-making entity.

“I think this is a really good facility for the community.”

But Councillor Frank Letch (Lib Dem, Crediton Boniface) questioned its need. “I do think we need to think about the other pharmacies, particularly the small independent.

“Boots will survive … but I would really like to see the Crediton Pharmacy protected on the High Street, and I just wonder whether we are doing them a favour or not”.

However, council leader Luke Taylor (Lib Dem, Bradninch) reiterated it was “not adding a pharmacy, just replacing one that was there previously”.

Mid Devon’s cabinet unanimously approved the loan.