HEALTH chiefs have welcomed the granting of planning approval for a new health centre in Dewsbury.

Building work on the site of the former Victoria School at Webster Hill is expected to start in April.

The centre - due to be completed by autumn, 2006 - will house up to six GP practices.

Its services will include speech therapy and eye-screening for diabetics.

Tests to detect health problems that were previously only available from Dewsbury District Hospital will also be carried out.

Barry Seal, chairman of North Kirklees NHS Primary Care Trust, said: "This is an exciting step forward towards a brand new, first-class health centre for the people of Dewsbury.

"This will be a key building and will set the scene for healthcare for the next century."

The centre is one of six that will be built by the primary care trust in a £25m programme.

Planning permission has already been given to improve the health centre at Batley and put up new buildings in Cleckheaton, Ravensthorpe, Savile Town and Liversedge.