Controversial plans for a new doctors' surgery on green belt land have been rejected for a second time.

The application - for a one-stop health centre with car parking on land near to the Warrens Nursery in Thingwall Road East - was overwhelmingly rejected by Wirral planning committee last Tuesday.

The committee said the scheme did not meet special circumstances allowing development on the green belt.

A Primary Care Trust spokesman said it is "very disappointed that the hard work and efforts of West Wirral Group Practice have not been successful in securing planning permission in respect of the preferred site for their new surgery. We will be considering next steps as a matter of urgency."

If approved, surgeries in Heswall, Pensby and Thingwall would have closed and moved to the site.

Supporters said it would improve patient care. But action group Friends of Arrowe Country Park feared it would devastate the area's green space and wildlife and lead to traffic congestion. Labour councillor Brian Kenny, acting planning committee chairman said: "We refused the application at the Warrens, as the committee felt the very special circumstances' that must be displayed in order to develop on greenbelt land had not been adequately demonstrated."

The campaign for a health centre on the Warrens began six years ago and the site was one of 22 considered for the project. An application to build a two-storey surgery at the same location was rejected in January 2004.

Wirral West MP Stephen Hesford has supported the campaign to relocate the health centre for many years and said: "On behalf of the local communities of Pensby and Irby, I am bitterly disappointed.

"The decision goes against the facts of the case and against the needs of the community.

"I will be urging the PCT to appeal this decision for the reason I have already indicated, but also I believe that the decision has some suggestion attached to it of being politically inspired in that most of the councillors who voted against it were Conservatives or Liberal Democrats."

Dr David Vine, a senior partner of West Wirral Group Practice, feared the application's refusal would make his practice's future very bleak'.

He said: "It has been difficult to provide this service because of the inadequacy of our building and we are not able to respond to the needs of our patients.

"Our building failed to meet the Disability Discrimination Act of 1995 and there's inadequate parking.

"This has meant a loss to our patients in many areas of care. In my 30 years in practice I have seen many changes in the practice and if we were unsuccessful with this application the future would be bleak for West Wirral Group Practice. This a serious situation for our patients."

But Friends of Arrowe Park group's chair Val Curtis, who has lived opposite the proposed site for 26 years, said: "We applaud the near unanimous decision of the committee in rejecting this application to develop on Wirral green belt land at Arrowe Country Park.

"It is inspirational to know that local government mechanisms for democratic inclusion of the people at the centre of the impact of decisions made by the committee, are sound and fair."