A community leader has spoken out about new plans for the renovation of Witham town centre.

Tina Townsend, of the Witham Community Hub, said she had reservations about proposals unveiled last week by developer NewRiver REIT to renovate the Newlands shopping centre by adding a consolidated health hub and homes to the precinct.

Tina said: “Personally I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing for the town.

“With the doctors’ surgeries being more spread out, it’s easier to get to them. If you think about elderly people, yes they can get on a bus, but some of them can’t get on a bus very easily.

“If they are prepared for 30,000 people to use it then fine but they might not have thought much about it.

“I think they’re doing it because the NHS are needing to downsize.

“It’s OK if it can cope with the growing footfall and if it can provide better facilities. If we can progress to having better facilities, then fantastic.”

NewRiver’s proposals for a second renovation of the town centre followed an overhaul last year costing £230,000.

At the time, chief executive Allan Lockhart said: “By bringing in new community services and homes into the heart of the town, we will be helping Witham to thrive.

“There is an acknowledged over-supply of retail floor space across the UK and for those prepared to swiftly embrace change, there is an opportunity to accelerate the successful regeneration of our towns and cities.”

However, Tina said: “People are saying that is it’s in the centre of town then it’s good but if you’re unwell then you’re not going to go shopping, are you?

“I’m fifty-fifty about it at the moment.”

The development was hailed last week by Witham MP Priti Patel as a “once in a generation opportunity to increase capacity to accommodate new patients from our growing population.”

Mid-Essex Clinical Commissioning Group is reportedly in the process of drawing up plans for the health services that could be featured on the site.

Alongside running the Community Hub, Tina also chairs the Chamber of Commerce and coordinates Witham’s Neighbourhood Watch social media page.

The Hub, which is in the Newlands precinct, is currently running a uniform exchange on weekdays from 9.30am to 2.30pm, just in time for the new school year.