Hitchin residents oppose mental health clinic

Residents are opposing the application. Pic: D Sharon Pruitt

Residents are opposing the application. Pic: D Sharon Pruitt - Credit: Archant

PLANS for a mental health clinic within a residential area are being opposed, due to concerns over safety and access.

The Herts Partnership NHS Foundation Trust wants to open a mental health clinic on the ground floor of The Carling Building, Coopers Yard, Hitchin.

But residents – who live in the same building – are opposing the application, which was submitted to North Herts District Council (NHDC).

So far, there have been 25 officially registering their opposition, but many are yet to make a formal submission.

Residents claim there will be access problems, and say there are concerns over safety.

Emma King owns a flat in the complex.

The 37-year-old, who wants more questions answered, bought her flat on the premise the ground floor would be turned into a shop or other retail unit.

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She said: “Initially, when my flat and flats in my block were marketed, the area underneath was advertised as for retail use.”

Commenting on why she was worried about the development, she added: “I have concerns over safety. What thought has been put into safety of residents? I’m going to be back and forth – what precautions have been put in place for my safety as a lone individual working back and forth?

“I don’t feel a residential development is the right place for any kind of health facility, and certainly not on that scale.”

Richard Harding, who also lives in the building, said there were also concerns over access to the clinic, which is proposed through a door next to the residential entrance.

“It’s the location and access to the clinic that concerns more than anything,” he told the Comet.

“There are a lot of people who feel the same.”

A spokesman from the NHS Foundation Trust said: “The people who are going to be using the service are not considered to be dangerous people. They are able to access this service having lived at home and some may be holding down jobs.

“It’s very unfair of people to think that just because someone is experiencing a mental illness, they are dangerous.

“We think there will be considerably less [people accessing the site] than if there was a shop there.”

A target date for a decision on whether to grant the change of use has been set for next month.

If it is called in, councillors who sit on NHDC’s planning control committee will make a decision.