Editor's pick: Medical centre pharmacy held no change of use

An inspector has struck down an enforcement notice directed against a pharmacy in a doctor's surgery in Kent, ruling that no material change of use was involved and permission was not required.

The pharmacy occupied four per cent of the medical centre's floorspace and operated on a licence requiring it to be open 100 hours a week to dispense prescriptions, with a pharmacist having to be available at all times. The facility provided a limited number of additional services apart from supply of medicines. The appellant stated that 97 per cent of sales were from prescriptions issued by the medical practice, with only limited amounts of non-prescription sales.

After reviewing various legal judgments, the inspector relied on article 3(3) of the Use Classes Order 1987, which states that a use which was included in and ordinarily incidental to any use in a class specified in the order was not automatically excluded from the use merely because it was specified in a separate use class.

The inspector had no doubt that the authorised use of the premises fell within class D1(a) relating to the provision of medical or health services. He found no authority for holding that the provision of pharmaceutical services, including the supply of medicines, could not be incidental to the provision of medical services. Indeed, he accepted the causal link between medical consultation and the need for drugs to treat a particular condition.

In his view, the pharmacy was different in character from a typical chemist's shop, which would often contain a wide range of beauty or household items for sale. In addition, he noted that the pharmacists carried out mini-triage and received referrals for colds and similar conditions offering prescriptive medicines if appropriate. Since all these functions were ordinarily incidental to a medical centre, he concluded that no material change of use had occurred.

Inspector: Rod Evans; Hearing

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