NHS BLOOD testing services at Basildon and Southend hospitals should be in private hands by next summer after plans for a new laboratory were approved.

Basildon Council agreed a planning application for a private blood testing laboratory at Dobson House, in Bentalls, Basildon, despite concerns raised about the lack of proposed parking spaces.

Integrated Pathology Partnerships, which will run the nonemergency pathology service for both hospitals, can now transform the former pharmaceutical factory into a modern facility employing 100 former hospital staff.

The building has been vacant since pharmaceutical firm Amdipharm stopped using it as a distribution warehouse.

Concerns were raised because, under planning guidelines, the proposed building should have at least 77 parking spaces – but the plans are for just 35.

Basildon and Billericay MP, John Baron, raised this on behalf of a constituent who works in the lab at one of the hospitals.

A council report said: “This matter has been raised by the local MP on behalf of someone who works at the existing pathology centre, who is concerned about lack of on-site parking.

“They state there are currently upwards of 400 staff at the two pathology centres, and they considered that in the region of 200 of these will be transferred to the new centre.

“That is well above that suggested by the applicant, who states the figure being closer to 100.”

However, the council said the applicant had submitted a travel plan – to encourage car sharing, use of public transport and walking and cycling to the site – to Essex County Council, which indicated it would accept it.

The council agreed to pass the plans provided it pays £3,000 to County Hall to develop the travel scheme and provides details of cycle parking facilities on site.

The report added: “It is not considered the proposed development in this case will create any significant highway and parking problems.

“The proposal would bring back into use a vacant warehouse unit in the form of a more intensive employment use, within an established employment area.”