A doctors’ surgery has been given the go-ahead to expand.

The Old Courthouse Surgery, in 27 Wood Street, Underhill, will be able to build a first-floor side and rear extension to the building after the plans were approved by councillors.

It comes after the GP practice won an improvement grant from NHS England to cope with growing demand from patients.

The surgery wants to provide additional diagnostic clinics, social prescribers, first-contact physiotherapists and paramedics.

Planning officers at Barnet Council recommended refusing permission for the development, warning it could cause harm to the Grade-II listed building, which lies within the Wood Street Conservation Area.

They said the surgery could move to a different location in the town centre.

But at a meeting of Chipping Barnet area planning committee on Tuesday (February 11), the applicant’s agent, Alan Cox, said there were no other suitable premises “within the immediate vicinity”.

Dr Ahmer Farooqi, a partner at the GP practice, said the number of patients registered with the practice had grown by 1,500 in ten years – partly due to new housing developments and the closure of local practices after their GPs retired.

Dr Farooqi said: “We have only got three consulting rooms on our first floor, which are only accessible by stairs.

“The proposed extension would allow us to reconfigure our space to ensure the majority of consulting rooms are on the ground floor, allowing offices on the upper floor.

“Ultimately, this is about patients. This project should enable us to continue to provide high-quality care.”

After councillors discussed the plans, committee chairman Cllr Stephen Sowerby (Conservative, Oakleigh) proposed a motion stating that the development would cause “less than substantial harm and the community benefits delivered will outweigh the harm caused”.

This was backed by five councillors, with one abstaining.