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E: enquiries@charleshiggins.co.uk

FAQ



A:

Each building is a bespoke solution to the needs of the individual Practice and the requirements of the site. We pride ourselves in our ability to listen to what you say. We take the time to prepare the design brief to accurately reflect your aspirations.

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This is often stated, however, we have the experience to identify sites even within developed areas. This is one of our main areas of expertise and functions at the early stages of a project.

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The PCT proposes a notional rent for the property, under the guidance usually of the District Valuer, which they pay to the Practice to reimburse you for the rent you will be paying to Charles Higgins as landlord. This leaves you in a neutral situation.

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Many Doctors owning their own premises have found the property values lead to new partners being faced with daunting personal loans and repayments which put off potential candidates. On the leasehold basis there are no re-valuations on the property when partners wish to leave or join. Thus creating a much more flexible recruitment policy for the Practice and the avoidance of disputes.

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You are protected by the Landlord and Tenant Acts and we would certainly encourage you to renew the Lease. Alternatively, you are free to vacate the building and have no further ties.

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We design the building to the maximum areas that the PCT will allow now, but we are mindful that invariably this will be insufficient within a few years and thus we design into the project an expansion capability.

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Yes is the short answer. We have just handed over a new surgery and they did not actually want to grow the list size, but they keep having more people applying to go on the Practice List. We are currently trying to locate a site for a practice in a very built-up area where the road system has been changed and they are no longer visible from any passing traffic and their old building is unable to provide the facilities needed. A new surgery in a more prominent location is picking up many of their patients. The hunt for affordable land is on!

A:

There are a number of options.

 

1) Depending on its location, condition and ownership there may be an   opportunity to retain the freehold, and let the building and creating an investment.

 

2)  Depending on its location it may be suitable for redevelopment thus          maximising your asset value.

 

3) You could just sell the building thus releasing the equity tied up.

 

4) If on Lease, you hand the building back to the landlord, on agreed terms.

 

5) One of the services we are able to offer is to assist in the maximisation of your property value and give guidance on how to deal with it efficiently. We have acted for practices agreeing a contract for sale with a delayed flexible completion.

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The practice of Philip Proctor Associates has been established since 1953 and over the last twenty plus years has built over 100 medical centres in Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, Wiltshire, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.  All of these have come through word-of-mouth recommendation from satisfied clients.  Articles have appeared in Medeconomics, Pulse and local press.  We have won the Poole Pride of Place award three times, the Trowbridge Civic Society’s first award, the Vale of the White Horse commendation, the Swindon equivalent of a Civic Society award and last but not least Prince Charles’ personal commendation for the Chippenham surgery.  These are all the awards from real people and not simply adulation by other architects!

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Well over a hundred of varied size and combinations – new buildings or alterations and extensions – from single handed practices to twelve or more partners – some alterations to listed buildings and some within conservation areas.

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Our surgeries are designed for minimal maintenance. Obviously windows need cleaning and gutters also (although Lechlade surgery avoids the problem by omitting the gutters)!  Apart from this the exterior materials are chosen to be durable colour coated aluminium windows, with tiled roofs and brick & stone walls, through colour render – all materials which weather gracefully, so that after ten or twenty years the buildings will actually look better than when new.  The Apples Surgery (Sherborne) shows this particularly well.  The Marine Surgery (Southbourne) simply has not changed at all.  In both cases after ten years the practices felt they should do some maintenance and found there was little required or even possible!

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Surgeries and other buildings we designed ten and more years ago still have a classic style and do not appear dated because they are not ‘fashionable trendy designs’.  Naturally recent buildings have a greater emphasis on Enhanced Primary Health Care but the logic applied to earlier designs still holds good.

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This varies with the progress of the work.  The brief may be evolved at a single meeting or several.  One really thorough meeting is best.  Usually a good design needs a month to mature – allowing time to reconsider the design concepts and logic.

 

There will then be a meeting to discuss the scheme or schemes (this depends upon whether there is a single ideal solution or options to select).  There would then be a further meeting to finalise the scheme before making a planning application. There will then be a hiatus until planning is received, as it is unwise to prepare working drawings until planning is granted (as it may not be).  In the detail design stage there will be a number of weekly or fortnightly meetings with the practice until everyone is happy with the details.  The final drawings and specification are prepared for a final meeting to run through all the details.  There may need to be a meeting after tender to discuss final specification adjustments before a pre-contract meeting.  Site meetings will normally be monthly with interim site inspections fortnightly. We encourage a representative from the Practice

A:

If Charles Higgins provides the GPs with leasehold premises Charles Higgins are responsible for all the professional fees and development costs apart from the Tenants own legal fees. Charles Higgins only ask the GPs to pay the planning application fee as a sign of commitment to the project, and generally ensure that the GPs and staff have looked carefully at the plans and they are what you really want, at the time of application. This is refunded when we go through the final account after Lease completion. We take on the development risks and abortive costs.

 

If Charles Higgins provides a project management function then the professional fees incurred in delivering the project are the GPs practice responsibility. Fee estimates and conditions of engagement will be provided. You will be responsible for raising the development funding. You take on the development risks and abortive costs.

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We start from first principles on the assumption that each practice is different although having a thorough background knowledge we know what questions to ask without having to ‘invent the wheel’.  We like to talk to everyone who will be using the building, to understand their requirements, and using illustrations of previous surgeries we can discuss preferences.  We like to discuss options with the client to allow the client, if they wish, to make the decisions.  Obviously if required we can take the majority of decisions.  We also encourage you to have a look at recent and old surgeries to understand how the new property can work for you and you can then take something you like from one and something from another to make the surgery your own.

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As Charles Higgins has a fixed policy to create and hold the centres as long term investments, they are built to a very high quality, and therefore we spend more on the construction than others.

 

Regrettably, the extra cost incurred by Charles Higgins in building is not reflected by the NHS, but taking the long view Charles Higgins has chosen to accept this constraint and work within it.

 

It does not cost you any more nor is it a bar to the scheme being successfully funded.

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It is rare for clients not to come back to us.  The most notable example is of a doctor for whom we designed a surgery, extended it twice, built two granny annexes and later converted one of them into more surgery.  We had advised that the original building was too small!

A:

This is where you need to talk to past clients.  We like to keep meetings in a light-hearted but efficient way making decision making relatively painless.  Most clients comment favourably on this!  This is a long term relationship and we enjoy what we do and want you to do the same. It is an exciting time and the less stressful the better.

© 2013 Medical Centre Developers Charles Higgins Partnership