Anger over planned village rehab centre

Proposed new rehab centre at Charnock Richard
Proposed new rehab centre at Charnock Richard

Residents are furious over plans for a 42-bedroom mental health rehabilitation unit on their doorstep.

They fear the proposed ‘Priory’-style unit in Charnock Richard will pose a public danger.

And they say it represents a double blow to their area following outline plans to build 420 houses on the former Camelot theme park site.

The Stocks Hall Nursing & Care Group will display its plans for a rehab centre during a public exhibition at Charnock Richard FC, Charter Lane, Charnock Richard, today, from 3pm to 7pm.

The application follows the withdrawal of previous proposals to convert green-belt Pemberton House Farm, Park Hall Road, last March, following concerns raised by people about the plans, mainly the treatment of specific conditions that would be offered to patients.

It had been recommended for refusal by council planning officers.

The updated proposals have reduced the size of the building by 12 per cent, and rooms from 48 to 42. Also, the facility no longer proposes to treat those suffering from drug or sexual behavioural 

More than 100 concerned residents met at Heskin Village Hall to protest at both the rehab centre and Camelot plans.

One Heskin resident, who did not want to be named, said: “There is nothing Stocks Hall aims to treat here that is not already adequately provided for already within a five-mile radius.

“Aiming to treat 42 patients with a wide variety of mental health conditions in a non secure unit is dangerous and represents a very large concentration of mentally ill people in one small village.”

Coun Paul Leadbetter, deputy leader of the Conservatives on Chorley Council, and ward councillor, said: “At the minute, I’m supporting what residents are asking me to support. It seems the majority of people are opposed to the outline applications for Camelot.

“With Pemberton House, we need to consider whether it’s still an appropriate development in green belt.”

Stocks Hall Nursing & Care Group said the centre was an opportunity to redevelop the site, which had been vacant since 2009 and attracted anti-social behaviour, vandalism and criminal activity, and deliver a sustainable development which had been sensitively designed to complement and reflect the character of Charnock Richard.

It would also create around 50 jobs, including carers, therapists, housekeeping and administrative staff, providing potential employment opportunities for local people.

Gareth Jones, on behalf of the group, said: “We recognise that a number of local residents expressed concern regarding the previous proposals for Pemberton House Farm, so we’ve spent considerable time and effort over the past few months reviewing our plans, in addition to selective treatments offered.

“We are now confident that having reduced the size of the facility and treating patients suffering from mental health issues that local people will be more familiar with, such as eating disorders, depression and stress, the proposals will be more accepted by the community.”

Meanwhile, the Camelot plans have been submitted to Chorley Council by Carlisle-based Story Homes.

Former councillor and mayor of Chorley, Heskin resident Alan Whittaker, who has chaired and managed public meetings on the two issues, said: “The Camelot proposal is both unwanted and unnecessary. Chorley Council has enough sites already available to meet a five-year demand.

“If this application is approved it will cause traffic chaos on what is only a minor road. There are no shops or businesses, no educational facilities and everyone of the 1,000 or more people who will live there will travel by car.

“Schools are already full or almost full, medical practices are already busy, drainage and sewage already cause problems. The proposal if approved will more than double the size of Heskin and significantly add to the population of Charnock Richard.

“The school in Charnock Richard already has to use temporary accommodation to accommodate its pupils.”

A public meeting organised by a residents’ steering group takes place at St Agnes’s Church Hall, Eccleston, on April 2, at 7pm.

Story Homes said: “Through thorough assessment and public consultation, we have created a sustainable proposal, which we believe will enhance the area and create a development of high quality homes whilst providing a viable long term future for the site.”