A PERMANENT St Luke’s Health Centre should be built as part of Southend United’s new stadium plans, a councillor has said.

Mike Grimwade, Lib Dem councillor for Prittlewell, said the new health centre could be situated in the shopping complex the football club hopes to build at its new ground, planned for Fossetts Farm.

St Luke’s Health Centre has operated from a temporary building in Pantile Avenue, Southchurch, since 2009 and Southend Council has agreed for the portable building to be used for another three years.

The council has also called on NHS England to find a permanent building as soon as possible.

Mr Grimwade said: “We obviously need a new health centre in the east of the borough.

“Can we consider talking to the football club about the retail structure at their new stadium?

“That seems to be an adequate place to put in a new surgery.”

Southend United has said it would “consider” the proposal, but even if it wasn’t to come together, councillors from all parties want NHS England to get on with finding the centre a new home.

Sally Carr, Conservative councillor for St Luke’s, said: “They couldn’t find something in the last five years. We are giving them another three years and I don’t think they are going to find a magic piece of land.

“I think the land they have already would make a very good permanent doctor’s surgery. I hope we send a strong message that they can’t come back to extend the lease of life of that temporary building again.”

St Luke’s councillor Brian Ayling warned a new building might not be achieved in the timescale.

He said: “Everybody is on board with this, but it’s not going to happen overnight. They need three years and we have been guaranteed a building within five.”

A spokesman for NHS England said: “NHS England, Essex is currently reviewing alternative options for St Luke’s Health Centre along with NHS Property services.

“There are a number of possible sites being reviewed and it is hoped we will be able to find alternative accommodation within the next 24 months. There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration, but we will keep local patients informed of the progress of this exercise.

“The existing St Luke’s Health Centre will remain open until any new premises are operational.”