CONTENTIOUS plans to change the use of a former doctor’s surgery near Barnsley town centre to a mental health support service has sparked outrage among local residents.
If the planning application is approved the venue, on Park Grove, will change its use to self-contained accommodation for those needing mental health support - potentially leading people with criminal convictions to the new site.
A planning statement said: “The primary purpose is to provide bespoke packages to patients aged 18 years to 65.
“We aim to support the smooth transition of individuals from mental health settings to a community-based high support service, providing self-contained accommodation, individual tenancies and 24-hour support from workers.”
Concerns were raised around the potential of criminals moving to the street, where residents often campaign against houses of multiple occupation (HMO) in their area, although the application states that there will be conditions put in place to ensure the safety of all residents.
“We accept that some of our residents may relapse and present with challenging and high-risk behaviours,” the statement added.
“It is our duty of care to ensure other residents remain safe, we will be carrying out regular risk assessments using intermittent or increased observations when necessary.
“We may exclude individuals who have significant history of arson and active substance misuse behaviours. We will work with other agencies such as the police and criminal justice to ensure those with an index offence with a criminal record undergo extensive risk screening.
“We will highlight the risk behaviours with individuals involved and if it is mental health related, review meetings will be carried out to consider moving residents involved to other more secure environments.
“Each resident will have a crisis plan which will identify options to be implemented should a relapse occur.
“We will also engage the local police if necessary in the case of a serious threat to other residents.”
If approved, the new service will provide 12 jobs to the local community - eight full-time and four part-time.
A local resident, who did not wish to be named, told the Chronicle: “There is a well-known drug problem on the corner of Agnes Road and that won’t do any good to any rehabilitating substance abuse resident.
“The mental state of anyone surely would not be healthy in the 7.2-metre square rooms that they have - I know that it would not be good for my recovering mindset in something cell size. You’ve also got the lack of waste space, possible constant police presence, all the possible relapses - I know people who will not sleep at night and it would be detrimental to their health with worry.
“It’s a family area - this sort of site is needed but not in such a tight area.”
A letter that was posted to houses on the street by concerned residents said: “Possible residents are recovering drug and substance abusers and convicted criminals from a vast array of offences.
“Barnsley is to be the primary catchment area. We have residents whose profession would pose this as a complete conflict and would result in them having no choice but to move.
“The plans state acknowledgement that some will relapse, and that there is a risk of them posing a serious threat to other residents in the property.
“The property will not secure the individuals inside, they will be able to enter and leave as they please, so this then poses a threat to the community.
“A large number of us have, and will, oppose the proposal as we feel strongly that the choice of location is completely inappropriate, unsafe and hugely disruptive to all surrounding residents and community as a whole.”
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Planning application sparks outrage
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