Planning request for Rochdale mental health unit postponed for ‘safety’ reasons

A planning application to convert a former hotel into a mental health facility has been postponed for ‘security’ reasons.

Plans had been submitted by Redside Capital Resources Limited to change the use of the Moss Lodge Hotel, on Kings Road, to a mental health facility with support, to be run by independent provider Northern Healthcare.

Previous proposals that would have seen the hotel turned into a rehabilitation center were rejected by council earlier this year after residents raised concerns about public safety.

Although recommended for approval in planning documents, the Planning and Permitting Committee postponed a decision on the new facility following concerns raised by members and residents about the ‘safety’ of the local community .

Objections were received regarding the “potential safety of neighboring users, including children attending daycare and schools in the immediate vicinity of the site”.

People living on the site would be supported to manage their mental health, medication adherence and activities of daily living such as budgeting, shopping, cooking and cleaning.

At the meeting, a member of the public said, “It feels like the community is being bullied until we accept some sort of facility like this within our community.

“There could be a real increase in traffic to 20 car journeys a day on an already congested part of Kingsway.

“These are people with serious mental health issues and there will be 18 at the same time.”

Northern Healthcare chief executive Ashley Mancey-Johnson said the facility “would not pose a safety risk to children” and that “robust” measures would be put in place to determine who would stay at the facility.

He said: “It saddens me to hear some of the objections, to be honest. We support people who have complex mental health issues and people who have been in hospital.

“What we’re trying to promote is a reduction in mental health stigma; we work with people who are risk assessed and deemed safe to live in the community. We provide 24 hour support.

“I find it really offensive that there are allegations that children are not safe. Just because you have mental health issues doesn’t mean you’re a child safety risk.

“The last thing we want is for there to be an incident in the local area that can be avoided.”

Afterwards, committee chairman Councilor Shakil Ahmed said members were still unconvinced about the security aspect of the app.

He said, “How are you going to convince us that people living in the area will be safe? I think the issue has still not been addressed.

“You haven’t shown the committee yet how you’re going to operate safely. We need some kind of insurance.

Temporary planning permission was offered upon request, where it would be considered in two to three years, but this was not deemed viable by Redbird and Northern Healthcare.

It was then recommended that the application be deferred until a detailed “management and operation plan” was submitted to address the security concerns.

Councilor Irene Davidson said: ‘We want to make sure that if we give the green light to the request we can get away from here, that between you residents around this area and inside this building are as safe and secure as possible so that everyone can lead a normal life.

“There’s no stigma in this, it’s to make sure that inside and outside the walls, the world goes on.”

Councilor Stephen Anstee added that the app needed to be ‘strengthened’ to address security issues.

“We don’t want to reject an app that can help so many people, but we also don’t want to endorse an app that could harm so many people,” he said.

The committee then voted unanimously to defer the request.

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