A new doctors’ surgery must be built near Crewkerne after a housing developer lost its appeal against the district council.

Clipper Development Partners LLP was granted permission in 2013 to build a new surgery and pharmacy along with 24 new homes on Orchard Drive in Merriott.

But the developers tried to change its legal agreement with South Somerset District Council over the provision of a surgery – and then lodged an appeal when the council refused to allow this change.

The Planning Inspectorate has now ruled in the council’s favour – meaning the medical facility will have to be provided by law.

Ruth and Martin Passey told the council that there had been limited interest in the surgery site since the original plans were approved.

In a joint statement, they said: “Since the plans were submitted in 2012 only one GP, from Crewkerne, has expressed interest.

“This expression of interest was not followed up and the GP has since retired. Since then a second practice has opened in Crewkerne, just ten minutes away from Merriott.

“There is an existing pharmacy in the village, which declined to take up an opportunity to move premises.”

The Passeys said they would build an additional house on the surgery site, and plant trees and shrubs to “bring some life to a rather urbanised space” within the village.

Planning inspector Neil Pope visited Merriott on March 12, and has ruled that there was no reason to change the original legal agreement – meaning the developers will have to work with Somerset health officials to ensure a doctors’ surgery is provided there.

He said in his written report: “The Merriott Village Plan 2014 identifies, amongst its aims, a community need to vigorously press for the development of the approved GPs’ surgery.

“For a village of this size, and a settlement that the council has informed me is projected to grow significantly, there is likely to be much existing and future demand for a GP service.

“It is by no means certain that there is no interest in delivering this medical facility, which would be of considerable public benefit, or that the size and scale of the approved surgery/pharmacy is no longer fit for purpose.”