Residents Win Fight To Shut Down Mental Health Unit

Residents are celebrating after winning a two year fight to shut down a mental health rehabilitation centre on their doorstep. A planning inspector has ruled that private firm Cambian Healthcare must stop its current operations at The Aspens in Mexborough, following a four-day public inquiry last month.

He upheld claims from local people, who had staged long-running protests outside the premises, that they were suffering as a result of their proximity to the treatment unit.

Jill Arkley of campaign group Mexborough Community Together said members were delighted with the news. She commented: “I don’t think any of us have stopped smiling. There was a small, committed group of people who went all the way, had our say, and told the truth, and the planning inspector agreed with us. This has never been about the people living in The Aspens but about the complete unsuitability of its location.”

Cambian had appealed against an enforcement notice issued by the council ordering that the centre should close. The authority had claimed the firm was in breach of planning consent for the site which stated that it could be used for a nursing and or residential home.

Planning inspector Paul Taylor said that the premises shared some characteristics of residential and nursing homes but its services went much further. He said that while the facility carried out beneficial work, its impact on people living in the area was over-riding and residents were justified in being fearful of the unit. He said: “The Aspens clearly does give rise to instances of anti-social behaviour leading to noise and disturbance in the community. I do not think the matter has been significantly over-exaggerated or induced by inflammatory material circulated by protestors.

“Local residents have described many such incidents including; nuisance from clients shouting and making other unfamiliar noises as well as abusive language, intimidating behaviour in the nearby roads and children’s play area, disturbance at night and staff struggling with clients outside the premises.”

Cambian has two months to comply with Mr Taylor’s ruling and was still digesting its contents yesterday. A spokesman for the company said: “This is one step in a protracted planning dispute. Cambian Healthcare is considering the decision of the Planning Inspectorate and due to the ongoing legal process is unable to comment at this time. We will make a full statement in due course.”